Symphonies by the Bach Sons Johann Christoph Friedrich BACH(1732-1795)
Symphony in E flat major, HW I/10 for two horns, two oboes, strings
and basso continuo (1770-72) [9:25] Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH(1714-1788)
Symphony in E minor, Wq 177-H652 for strings and basso continuo
(1756) [10:16] Johann Christian BACH(1735-1782)
Symphony in E flat major Op. 6/3- W C9 for two horns, two oboes,
strings and basso continuo (1770) [12:30] Johann Christoph Friedrich BACH
Symphony in D minor HW I/3 for strings and basso continuo (1768)
[8:33] Johann Christian BACH
Symphony in G minor, Op.6/6 W C12 for two horns, two oboes, strings
and basso continuo (1770) [12:28]
Bach Concentus/Ewald Demeyere
rec. deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium, 8-11September 2011
Every so often, it can be good to go ‘Back to Bach’.
From the motor-rhythms of Bartók to the complexities
of Boulez by way of the romance of Rachmaninov and the ‘nobilmente'
of Elgar twentieth and nineteenth century music largely satisfies
my needs. I must not forget my two particular favourites, Parry
On the other hand, Bach is never far away from me. JSB’s
Two and Three Part Inventions and the Little Preludes permanently
reside on the piano. The St. Matthew Passion is a yearly
event in my listening calendar and I enjoy hearing the ‘master’
played on the organ whenever I am in church.
However, all that is Bach ‘père’. What are
presented here are five well-wrought symphonies by three of
The CD cover is truly evocative - at least to anyone who has
ever dreamt of discovering a ‘lost’ classic car
buried deep in an old barn or disused garage. Volkswagens were
never my favourite design of ‘wheels’ - that honour
is reserved for the Austin Somerset which I have lusted after
for near fifty years. Yet the picture serves it purpose: invocation
of a selection of lost - or at least hardly ‘well-kent’
I did a quick count: as far as I can see, there are some seven
versions of Johann Christian Bach’s Symphony in G minor.
Two are represented by a couple of recordings. However, I cannot
find another edition of Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach’s
fine E flat major and D minor Symphonies. Nonetheless, they
may well be in the catalogues and known to the Bach-family cognoscenti.
On the matter of the Bach family, a few brief notes on the composers
may not go amiss - for those people who like myself often get
their ‘Bachs’ mixed up.
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795) was born in Liepzig
and died in Bückeburg aged sixty-three. He was JSB’s
sixteenth child and ninth son. He combined performance with
composition. His many works include chamber music, keyboard
sonatas, concertos and the present two symphonies.
Carl Philipp Emanuel (C.P.E.) Bach was born in Weimar in 1714
and died in Hamburg in 1788 aged seventy-four. He was the fifth
child and third son of the Master. He was a notable player of
keyboard instruments, and also a considerable composer. A major
achievement was as one of the originators of the ‘sonata-symphony’
form. This succeeded the old suite and dance forms. He held
a sinecure at the court of Frederick the Great, but latterly
lived in some obscurity in Hamburg, working as an organist and
musical director in a number of local churches.
Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782) was born in Leipzig and died
in London aged forty-six. He was the eighteenth child and eleventh
son. His earlier life was spent as an organist in Milan and
other Northern Italian towns. His pseudonym is ‘The English
Bach’ due to the fact that he lived the last 25 years
in London employed as an opera director and musical master to
Queen Charlotte. J.C.B. wrote many operas, symphonies and instrumental
music for the harpsichord.
I listened to all the works on this CD with an innocent ear:
I cannot claim to have consciously heard any of them before.
I am not an expert on Bach orchestras: I confess to not yet
having made up my mind about the question of ‘period instruments’
as opposed to ‘modern’. I do like Bach (any of that
musical family) performed on a concert grand piano. Contrariwise,
I also enjoy hearing it played on contemporary harpsichords.
The present ensemble, Bach Concentus was founded in 2007 by
their artistic director Ewald Demeyere and Guilin D’Alessio.
They devote their attention to the instrumental and vocal music
of the Baroque and Classical periods. In addition, yes, they
do play period instruments. Their speciality is the Bach dynasty
and include in their concerts repertoire from those offspring
played on this disc as well as the relatively rarely heard Johann
Bernard Bach and William Friedrich Bach. Other composers in
their repertoire include our own Thomas Arne, as well as Handel,
Mozart, Salieri, Telemann and Vivaldi. Much effort goes into
establishing the ‘historical authenticity’ of any
work performed, which involves considerable labour in producing
the ‘correct’ score from surviving documents and
later editions. The excellent liner-notes sum up all this effort
by noting that Bach Concentus wants to ‘put into practice
the latest musicological discoveries regarding historical performance
Whatever the erudition - and this is manifestly considerable
- that is put into realising the present symphonies the bottom
line is the end result: in the present CD it is brilliant. All
the spontaneity, colour and ultimately cool textures of these
works are vividly brought out. They excited me, moved me and
thoroughly entertained me.
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