CPE Bach (DVD)

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COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
LABELS: Accentus Music
WORKS: The 1786 Charity Concert: JS Bach: Mass in B minor – Credo; CPE Bach: Symphony in D, Wq 183/1; Magnificat in D, Wq 215; Heilig ist Gott, Wq 217; Handel: Messiah – ‘Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser lebet’; ‘Hallelujah’
PERFORMER: Christina Landshamer (soprano), Wiebke Lehmkuhl (alto), Lothar Odinius (tenor), Thomas Bauer (bass); RIAS Kammerchor; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/ Hans-Christoph Rademann
CATALOGUE NO: ACC 20320

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Hans-Christophe Rademann’s audio recording of CPE Bach’s 1749 Magnificat with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and the RIAS Kammerchor was one of the most handsome 300th anniversary tributes. Recorded live in Berlin’s Konzerthaus, where the composer’s bust sits alongside that of his father, Johann Sebastian, this DVD offers a full reconstruction of the charity concert that CPE Bach conducted in Hamburg on Palm Sunday, 1786. The singing and playing is, as before, lithe and clean. The big surprise is just how well the Magnificat stands up against the other items: the Credo from JS Bach’s B minor Mass, complete with a serene orchestral prelude composed for the occasion by his son, and two movements from Handel’s Messiah.

Rademann captures the elusive aesthetic of music from the years between the Baroque and Classical styles. Performed in CPE Bach’s edition, the elder Bach’s Credo is subtly coloured and shaped, particularly in the lilting single strings of the bass aria, ‘Et in Spiritum Sanctum’, eloquently sung by Thomas  Bauer. The camera work is nicely paced, sometimes musically sensitive, sometimes catching a private smile between desk partners or a timpanist bouncing in readiness for his entry. Directed from the violin by Nadja Zwiener, the three movements of CPE Bach’s Symphony in D unfold organically. The double-choir motet Heilig ist Gott sounds simply glorious in this acoustic. Considering the advantages offered by the DVD format, it’s a shame that there are no interviews on the scholarship behind the reconstruction.

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Anna Picard