COMPOSERS: CPE Bach & JS Bach
ALBUM TITLE: CPE Bach
WORKS: Flute Concertos, Wq 22, 166 & 169
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Pahud (flute); Kammerakademie Potsdam/ Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 0825646276790
Although his successors thought highly of CPE Bach – Mozart said ‘although Emmanuel Bach is the father, we are the children’ and Beethoven recommended him as a model to his composition students – he was never so well regarded by Frederick the Great. He joined the Royal Court in 1740 as Chamber Musician, and the three concertos on Emmanuel Pahud’s disc were not commissions from the King but simply arrangements of earlier keyboard concertos.
The A minor Concerto Wq166 begins in the stormiest Sturm und Drang (‘storm and stress’) manner, thin string textures in hectically fast tremolos. The lyrical flute entry seems at first to bear out the King’s limits as a gifted amateur – in his later years his accompanists had to slow up by Royal command to allow him time to take breath. In 1750 he was clearly in fine fettle as the subsequent episode develops into a series of spectacular scales. The gentle alternation of flute and strings in the slow movement sets off a perky dialogue in the finale which dispels any doubts about the King’s technical prowess.
The second work, Wq169 in G major, follows much the same pattern as the first. The third, though, Wq22 in D minor, is a rather more sombre, weighty piece. The major mode middle movement is quite profoundly moving while its focus on developing motifs explains its appeal to Beethoven.
If CPE Bach’s two extremes, of unyielding storminess and emotive lyricism, prove ultimately rather predictable, both Pahud and the tautly disciplined Kammerakademie Potsdam strings under Trevor Pinnock provide an excellent account of this new mid-18th century musical language.