COMPOSERS: CPE Bac,JC Bach,JS Bach,WF Bach
ALBUM TITLE: Dynastie
WORKS: Concertos by JS Bach, JC Bach, WF Bach and CPE Bach
PERFORMER: Jean Rondeau (harpsichord); Sophie Gent, Louis Creach’h (violin), Fanny Paccoud (viola), Antoine Touche (cello), Thomas de Pierrefeu (bass), Evolène Kiener (bassoon)
CATALOGUE NO: 9029488846
This spirited and eloquently ornamented playing serves the music of JS Bach and three of his sons uncommonly well. The programme is framed by two of the most ambitious harpsichord concertos of the first half of the 18th century. JS Bach’s D minor Concerto for harpsichord and strings survives in an autograph manuscript of the late 1730s, though its original version, almost certainly for violin, may be one of his earliest concertos. Its outer movements possess immense energy requiring virtuosic gestures from the soloist. Jean Rondeau’s performance infectiously realises both while bringing a contrasting lyricism to the generously proportioned Adagio.
Carl Philipp Emannuel Bach’s Concerto in D minor, similarly scored to his father’s concerto, was written in 1748 while he was serving as court harpsichordist to Frederick the Great in Berlin. The piece is redolent of Bach’s idiosyncratic and exploratory style, thematically challenging and boldly expressive. We can understand readily enough why Beethoven found so much to admire in this composer’s music. Rondeau and his excellent string players enliven at every turn Bach’s distinctive idiom.
Within this powerful framework are three pieces of varying scale, of which JS Bach’s F minor Concerto for harpsichord and strings is far the best known. Two of its movements may have originated as concertos for oboe – Bach used the lyrical Largo with oboe to preface his Epiphany cantata, BWV 156. A ‘Lamento’ by Bach’s eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann is an arrangement by Rondeau of a sonata movement, while a fine F minor concerto with a darkly coloured Andante is attributed in one of its surviving sources to Bach’s youngest son Johann Christian. It sounds to me more the style of one of his two eldest brothers, but we cannot know for sure.
Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.