Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH(1714-1788)
Orchestral Symphony in D, Wq 183/1 (H 663) (1775-76) [10:43]
Orchestral Symphony in E flat, Wq 183/2 (H 664) (1775-76) [9:11]
Orchestral Symphony in F, Wq 183/3 (H 665) (1775-76) [9:05]
Orchestral Symphony in G, Wq 183/4 (H 666) (1775-76) [10:27]
Symphony in G, for strings and continuo, Wq 182/1 (H 657) [11:36]
Symphony in B flat, for strings and continuo, Wq 182/2 (H 658) [10:43]
Symphony in C, for strings and continuo, Wq 182/3 (H 659) (1773)
Symphony in A, for strings and continuo, Wq 182/4 (H 660) (1773)
Symphony in B minor, for strings and continuo, Wq 182/5 (H 661)
Symphony in E, for strings and continuo, Wq 182/6 (H 662) (1773)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra/Hartmut Haenchen
Roland Münch (harpsichord)
rec. Christuskirche, Berlin, October 1985 [Wq 182]; October and
November 1986 [Wq 183]. DDD
PHOENIX EDITION 443 [39:26 + 63:15]
As the recording date suggests, this double CD is a re-issue,
originally published by Capriccio in 1988. It was re-released
most recently in 2004 as part of their 12 CD 'CPE Bach Edition'
of symphonies, concertos, keyboard music, flute sonatas and
vocal music (C49367). Phoenix have in fact already re-issued
most of the discs in that set already this summer in this, their
own 'CPE Bach Edition'. They have essentially provided a design
facelift: the booklets have attractive old school covers, clean,
blockish layouts and even a colour photo printed on the discs
themselves. Admittedly the perfunctory liner-notes - two-and-a-half
columns of text in total - are nothing to get excited about,
but generally speaking the CDs each create a good impression.
In quantitative terms CPE Bach was not a great symphonist, but
for sheer quality, and therefore musicological importance, the
ten 'Hamburg' works on these discs, accounting for about half
of his known output, are hard to beat. Even during their first
rehearsals, the "great variety and novelty of form and modulation"
of the six Symphonies for Strings was noted, and Emanuel described
the Orchestral Symphonies to his publisher as "the greatest
thing of that kind that I have done. My modesty prevents me
from saying any more on the subject."
Though Emanuel retained the fast-slow-fast three-movement model,
he had moved away from the Italian style of his earlier 'Berlin'
symphonies towards greater orchestral texture, from the obbligato
winds and minimal continuo in the Wq 183 set, to the richness
of the strings in Wq 183. His usual grace, variety, depth and
excitement remain, but there is also much non-frivolous novelty
in both sets of Symphonies: for example, the running of one
movement into another without a caesura, particularly startling
in the dramatic sudden turn in the music between the first and
second movements of the String Symphony in C; the unexpected
three second pause midway through the slow section of the String
Symphony in G; the amazing tone colour of the slow movement
of the Orchestral Symphony in D or the initial chord of the
one in E flat; the sudden interruption of the calm opening to
the String Symphony in B minor; and several more examples of
When these two discs first came out they won a Deutscher Schallplattenpreis
(now the ECHO Prize), an industry award that was fully deserved:
Bach's excellent music is given first-rate attention by Hartmut
Haenchen and his fine group of musicians. Today Haenchen is
still artistic director of the CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra, which
has gone on from these relatively early days to build up a reputation
for excellent period musicianship. Given their name and the
quality performances in these recordings, it may appear to be
stating the obvious that the Orchestra specialises in eighteenth
century repertoire, but it did in fact start out as a new music
Sound and general technical quality is high. Some background
traffic noise is occasionally just audible, and there are one
or two inconspicuous editing joins, such as at the very start
of the third movement of the String Symphony in G, or between
the second and third movements of the Orchestral Symphony in
E flat, which were obviously recorded on different occasions.
Incidentally, the CD does not confirm that this is a DDD recording
- but the original Capriccio cover does.
Though this is a double disc set, there are still only 102 minutes
on offer, which makes it a disappointingly short recording.
Fortunately, it is available at the same price as single discs
in the edition, making it something of a reasonable purchase
after all - in fact, CPE Bach's Symphonies being what they are,
this is actually a bargain.
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