One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1786)
Cello Concerto in A minor, Wq 170 [24:01]
Cello Concerto in B flat, Wq 171 [21:12]
Cello Concerto in A, Wq 172 [19:22]
Nicolas Altstaedt (cello); Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen (harpsichord director)
rec. 24-26 November, 2014, St-Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, UK
HYPERION CDA68112 [64:35]

C.P.E. Bach, who in his time was hailed as the best and most original member of the Bach family, composed three cello concertos, all collected here. They were also arranged for flute and harpsichord, and no-one quite knows which version was the original, but as cello concertos they are excellent works of the early classical Sturm und Drang era. Anyone who likes, say, the first fifty Haydn symphonies should find much to enjoy in these works.

The third concerto has been quite popular for some time; Pierre Fournier recorded it. Complete cycles are rarer, and Nicolas Altstaedt and Arcangelo present the concertos on period instruments, in period style. At 20-24 minutes each, these pieces are substantial, and often original; the younger Bach uses eccentric time signatures like 3/2 or 6/8, and sometimes has the orchestra and soloist performing in highly contrasting moods. The second concerto’s adagio, for instance, often has a contrast between harsh tutti ensemble and quiet, lyrical soloist, which reminds me in that way of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.

An excellent booklet essay makes this disc even more attractive to adventurers and C.P.E. enthusiasts. Jonathan Cohen, the conductor, is a versatile musician; he also plays the harpsichord on this album, which perhaps explains why it’s so prominent in the balance, and is a cellist too. Nicolas Altstaedt, one of a new generation of young soloists who happily move back and forth between period and modern performing styles, acquits himself well, although at times I wish he would allow himself just a bit of vibrato. Altstaedt and Cohen wrote many of the cadenzas on the disc. Arcangelo provides the excellent accompaniment; they save their most exciting and invigorating playing for the very last track.

This is one of those CDs that’s all too easy to recommend. If you’re a devoted C.P.E. Bach fan, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re new to this composer, and wondering what he could possibly offer in contrast to his father, maybe start somewhere else. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin has his Magnificat on Harmonia Mundi; Andreas Staier has recorded a selection of eye-opening harpsichord concertos; and Mikhail Pletnev has a piano recital revealing the composer’s eccentricity at its most engaging.

Brian Reinhart



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger