Bach, CPE Bach

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LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Concerto for Oboe d’amore in D, BWV 1053; Sinfonia from Cantata BWV 156; Canonic Trio in F, BWV 1040. Oboe Concerto in B flat, Wq 164; Oboe Concerto in E flat, Wq 165
PERFORMER: Heinz Holliger (oboe & oboe d’amore)Camerata Bern
CATALOGUE NO: 454 450-2
Writing for the oboe was a late-Baroque composer’s stock-in-trade, since the instrument was almost as important a component of the orchestra as the strings themselves. Not all composers, though, were drawn to its solo potential, but those who were as often as not rose to the occasion. Having said as much, it must now be divulged that only a very little of this programme was expressly written for the oboe. The Oboe d’amore Concerto in D is a modern arrangement of music first found in two of Bach’s sacred cantatas (BWV 49 and 169), and subsequently in his Harpsichord Concerto in E (BWV 1053) – the accompanying note is muddled over this issue. CPE Bach’s two spaciously laid out concertos, on the other hand, are authentic, though he wrote them, in the first instance, with the harpsichord as solo instrument. That leaves only two very short items in the programme unaccounted for. They are taken from two further cantatas (BWV 156 and 208). Holliger’s playing, on both oboe and oboe d’amore, is lyrical, warmly coloured and impeccably controlled. His intuitive feeling for the shape of Bach’s melodies and the technique which he has at his disposal to follow their contours, seamlessly and expressively illuminate the music at every turn. Camerata Bern offers him secure, if at times routine, support, but Holliger remains poetic throughout. Only an insipid cover design fails to please. Nicholas Anderson