Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Monday, July 28, 2008

C.P.E. Bach - Two Recordings

I've been listening to two recordings of symphonies and concerti by Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach, son of the more famous Johann Sebastian Bach.

These are the next two CD's in my collection, though I have added some more music of the Amadeus Guitar Duo which will have to wait awhile. Starting with C.P.E. Bach, I begin what will be a large portion of my collection, as I now enter the "B's"; this includes well known folks like Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, but also composers Bruckner, Bruch, and others.

But, onwards to CPE Bach.

The recording I've liked the best is performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the direction of Gustav Leonhardt, and features Anner Bylsma (Anner is a guy) on solo cello. This is a two CD collection, with five symphonies on CD 1 and three cello concerti on CD 2. This is but a small sampling of the works of CPE Bach (when you play and compose for Frederick the Great, I guess you are motivated). Each of the symphonies consist of three movements, rather than four which became the standard in later years.

I read somewhere that the younger Bach was a specialist in the pause, where, for a brief moment, the music just stops, right in the middle of the movement. This is pretty evident in these symphonies and concerti, and on a first listening, they come as a surprise (Hey, what happened? you say, thinking your CD player just died). Aside from getting your attention, it also serves as a neat and quick way to change keys.

The other recording consists of four flute concerti, two oboe concerti, and one solo for harp. This two CD set has a list of performers I leave for you to read at the Amazon site (cited here). It also includes a "solo" for oboe and continuo, carrying on the tradition that the continuo, (piano, harpsichord, even guitar or lute) is pretty much assumed and not worthy of mention. Each of the works here are three movement works, as on the previous recording.

This second recording has become a favorite nap or bedtime music, though some of the first movements start off with a bang. Here, too, you will find clever uses of rests.

It's been fun spending time with these recordings, but next up is CPE's daddy.

(For those of you in the know, should I include my PDQ Bach anthology in the blog? Leave a comment with your thoughts.)