This delightful disc vividly reveals the mercurial character of CPE Bach. Dr Burney described his improvising at the keyboard, ‘so animated and possessed that he… looked like one inspired’. The opening movement of the A minor Concerto is similarly ‘possessed’, unison strings playing an angular, rocketing theme in a feverish tremolo until the cello introduces a more lyrical mood.
At the other extreme is the A minor Concerto’s slow movement, quoting from JS Bach’s F minor three-part Invention, in sobbing melancholic motifs and intense dissonances. The demands on the cello are often highly virtuosic, with rapid-fire figuration in the last movement of Wq170, a rollicking finale to Wq172, all pulled off with disarming ease. Raphael Wallfisch is particularly alluring in the opening movement of Wq171, characterised by calm persuasive rhetoric rather than forceful passion.
The Scottish Ensemble contributes just 12 strings and harpsichord, their transparent textures matching the refined, focused tone of the cello, even in its lowest register. The intimacy of this chamber scale is enhanced by the recording, the cello audibly forward of the light orchestral forces. Highly recommended. George Pratt