Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714 – 1788)
Concerto for cello and string orchestra in A Major, Wq172 [22:47]
Concerto for cello and string orchestra in a minor, Wq 170 [27:23]
Concerto for cello and string orchestra in B major, Wq 171 [24:38]
Konstantin Manaev (cello)
Berliner Camerata (Olga Pak (violin/director), Alexey Naumenko (violin), Tomoe Imazu (viola), Vladimir Reshetko (cello), Berkcan Ertan (double bass), Mira Lange (harpsichord))
rec. Jesus-Christus-Kirche Dahlem, Berlin, 28 April–1 May 2014
Whilst the three concertos presented here also exist in versions for flute and harpsichord, they were originally believed to have been for the cello. As such they represent some of the very earliest post-Baroque examples of concertos for the instrument. They are also interesting precursors to the concertos of Dittersdorf, Stamitz, Vanhal and Haydn.

Recorded during 2014, the tercentenary of the composer’s birth, it is a delight then to hear them presented so sincerely and with such style and elegance.

Soloist Konstantin Manaev, along with a quintet of strings and a harpsichord from the Berliner Camerata as his accompanists, makes a persuasive case for Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s concertos.

Manaev’s expressive playing is suitably idiomatic, with the orchestral playing also wonderfully alert and stylish, even if the relatively small complement of players is at times powerless to provide a rich enough body of sound in the orchestral ritornellos.

The cheerful outer movements are presented with an infectious joy and with superb interplay between soloist and his quintet of strings and harpsichord. Manaev’s secure command of the solo part allows for an adventurous and satisfying musical exploration.

The middle movements are all substantial pieces of music, not just in duration, and in these Manaev confirms his sensitivity and curiosity as a musician in serene and tender performances, revealing something of the soul of the composer.

The startling cadenzas, composed by Aziza Sadikova, are reminiscent of the polystylism of Alfred Schnittke and whilst they are intended to provide a bridge between the past and the future, I remain uncertain about their effectiveness.

Many well-known artists, including Rostropovich, Bylsma and Meneses have recorded C.P.E. Bach’s cello concertos. Konstantin Manaev’s recording is a welcome and refreshing addition to these, not just for his own view of these charming works, but also for the attentive and nimble playing of the Berliner Camerata.

Leon Bosch
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