CPE Bach: Magnificat

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COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: CPE Bach: Magnificat
WORKS: Magnificat, Wq 215; Heilig ist Gott, Wq 217; Sinfonie in D, Wq 183/1
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Watts (soprano); Wiebke Lehmkuhl (mezzo-soprano); Lothat Odinius (tenor); Markus Eiche (bass); RIAS Kammerchor; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin /Hans-Christoph Rademann
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 902167

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The RIAS Kammerchor and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin celebrate CPE Bach’s 300th anniversary with a fine reconstruction of the second half of a concert he conducted in Hamburg on Palm Sunday, 1786. So vivacious is the choral singing and orchestral playing under Hans-Christoph Rademann that it’s a shame they did not include every work from that occasion: the Credo from JS Bach’s B minor Mass and two movements from Handel’s Messiah are omitted. 

Something of the fizz of the elder Bach’s 1733 Magnificat can be heard in his son’s setting of 1749, along with references to the B minor Mass. However, the arias are somewhat formal and ornate, save for a mellow setting of ‘Suscepit Israel puerum suum’ for mezzo-soprano (Wiebke Lehmkuhl) and obbligato flute (Georges Barthel). The Symphony in D of 1780 is bracingly astringent and original, a world removed from the urbanity of his younger brother Johann Christian’s London symphonies. But the most arresting work here is the 1776 motet Heilig ist Gott, in which the praises of an earthly chorus and a heavenly semi-chorus echo and overlap in a revival of the spatial polychoral style of 150 years earlier.

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Anna Picard