CPE Bach: Flute Concerto in D minor, Wq 22; Flute Concerto in A, Wq 168; Flute Concerto in G, Wq 169

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COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: Flute Concerto in D minor, Wq 22; Flute Concerto in A, Wq 168; Flute Concerto in G, Wq 169
PERFORMER: Feinstein Ensemble/Martin Feinstein (flute)
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1019
Like his father, Emanuel Bach was an inveterate recycler of his own music. All three works here started life as keyboard concertos, and were transcribed either for Bach’s employer Frederick the Great or, more likely given their technical demands, the virtuoso flautist Johann Quantz. Though less personal and outlandish than some of Bach’s symphonies and solo keyboard works, the concertos still contain many of the composer’s hallmarks: the furious drive and shock contrasts of the D minor’s finale, for instance; the fiery, angular gigue that closes the A major Concerto; or the characteristic Empfindsamkeit – ‘heightened sensibility’ – of the slow movements, with their sighing dissonances and brooding introspection.

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Martin Feinstein, with his cool, limpid tone, is an adroit soloist, articulating deftly and negotiating, say, the fireworks of the D minor’s finale with aplomb. In the slow movements, notably the sombre, troubled Largo of the A major, he and his period string band can seem too reticent and rhythmically unyielding, reluctant to stress a discord or point a cadence with a slight flexing of the pulse. But the players catch well the restless, wayward energy of the fast movements, above all in the proto-Sturm und Drang D minor Concerto. For all my provisos over the slow movements, this disc can be recommended, especially as alternative period versions of these fascinating concertos are at present non-existent. Richard Wigmore