The Best of C.P.E. Bach (2CD)

Brilliant Classics
Current Stock:
Various Artists

This set brings together the best of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, a composer who achieved considerable renown in his own lifetime and was in fact much more highly regarded than his father – contemporaneous references always referred to him, rather than Johann Sebastian, as the “great Bach”. The second eldest of four sons, Emanuel’s reputation declined somewhat during the course of the 19th century, when Mendelssohn’s revival of his father’s Matthew Passion fuelled a surge in appreciation for the mastery of this genius’s music. Today, however, with renewed interest in neglected 18th‐century music, his status has been revised, and he is now recognised as a significant composer in his own right, the author of a boldly original and innovative style.

The two discs reveal that C.P.E. composed in practically every genre except opera. A substantial part of his career was spent working for the flute‐playing Frederick the Great, and his chamber music reflects the conservative tastes of his patron who was effectively a restraint on the composer’s experimental spirit. With such works as the Hamburg Symphonies and keyboard sonatas, however, C.P.E. Bach was able unleash all facets of his musical talent; the empfindsamer Stil, of which he was an important pioneer, is particularly evident in the latter works which number over 300 in total.

Also included on the compilation is an assortment of concertos (oboe, cello & flute) as well several cantatas (including Anbetung der Ermbarmer and Heilig), all of which were composed for popular high spots of the ecclesiastical year. Indeed, it was after succeeding his godfather Telemann as director of music at Hamburg that Emanuel was able to devote more of his energies towards composing ceremonial music for the church, and for many the crowning achievement of his career is the oratorio Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesus, a work of sumptuous grandeur which earned high recognition beyond the city of Hamburg during Emanuel’s own lifetime.

A wonderful array of talent is assembled for this compilation, which features many period performance ensembles and artists – Das Kleine Konzert and Pieter‐Jan Belder included – who have made the music of Bach their primary study. The works have all been taken from Brilliant Classics’ mammoth C.P.E. Bach Edition, and form the basis of a perfect introduction to one of the 18th century’s most versatile and talented composers.

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CPE Bach:   

Symphony in D major, Wq. 183/1 (H663)

Flute Concerto in A major, Wq. 168 (H438)

Symphony in C major, Wq. 174 (H649)

Oboe Concerto in B flat major, Wq. 164 (H466)

Cello Concerto No. 3 in A major, Wq. 172 (H439)

Der Herr lebet, Wq. 251 (H821g): Ruhe sanft, verklärter Lehrer

Flute Sonata in E minor, Wq. 124 (H551, 1737)

Wer ist so würdig als du Wq. 222

Violin Sonata in D minor, Wq. 72 (H503)

Heilig (Te Deum Laudamus), Wq. 217 (H778)

Sonata in C minor (Prussian Sonata No. 4), Wq. 48/4 (H27)

Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, Wq. 240 (H777): Vater deiner schwachen Kinder

Gnadig und barmherzig ist der Herr, Wq. 250 (H821l): O seht, wie so harmlos

Anbetung dem Erbarme, Wq. 243 (H807)