Brilliant Classics’s generous celebration of one of 2014’s principal anniversary composers continues with these three-movement ‘symphonies’ that may not yet have the breadth or weight that later composers of the Classical period would invest in the genre such as we know it now, but still move forward from the kind of pot-pourri sinfonia that would open an opera or function as an incidental intermezzo. In this, as in so much of his output, CPE Bach stands between periods, perhaps hitherto more appreciated for where his music leads than its own qualities and quirks, which are legion: as purveyor of a new ‘Empfindsamer Stil’ or ‘sensitive style’, CPE took the application of rhetorical principles within ‘abstract’ musical narratives to unparalleled heights, with an almost postmodern disregard for the niceties of formal elegance and an apparently unquenchable glee in composing the unexpected. These symphonies are full of unlikely turns, zestful energy and the juxtaposition of curious ideas.
The Dutch conductor Hartmut Haenchen has been a staunch advocate for this music through his career, making pioneering recordings that use ‘traditional’ instruments but speak the composer’s language with tremendous enthusiasm and eloquent understanding.
- Recorded in 1985.
- The complete six so-called “Berliner” symphonies by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whose 300th birthday is celebrated in 2014.
- C.P.E. was a figure of transition, building a bridge between the Baroque and the Classical style. His symphonies of course lack the formal structures of the classical symphony by Haydn or Mozart, but they are highly personal and original works, full of unexpected turns, surprises, jokes and “affects”.
- Dedicated and spirited performances by Hartmut Haenchen, who leads his C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra in a historically informed way, the orchestra playing on “traditional” instruments.
- ‘Vigorous performances lacking neither in expressive sensibility nor in virtuosity.' (Gramophone)