CPE Bach: Cello Concertos Nos 1-3

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COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Cello Concertos Nos 1-3
PERFORMER: Truls Mørk (cello); Les Violons du Roy/Bernard Labadie
CATALOGUE NO: 694 4920

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The Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk is a most eloquent player of these three technically and expressively demanding concertos. Judging from his fluent virtuosity, he has fully recovered from a recent career-threatening illness. Though the concertos exist in versions for harpsichord and also flute, Simon Heighes’s scholarly note makes a strong case for the cello versions coming first. 
 
They date from 1750-1753, straddling Baroque and pre-Classical styles; their first and last movements are in ritornello form with powerful, driving Vivaldian unisons. But CPE Bach uses none of his father’s contrapuntal ingenuity, and orchestra and soloist exchange motifs in an orderly, quite Classical manner.
 
The composer’s passion is evident – sky-rocketing themes, fast tremolo strings (though no wind; they are listed in error in the booklet). But CPE Bach’s renowned depth of emotional feeling is most clearly evident in the slow movements; the Largo of Wq.172, in the minor mode, recalls the anguished falling figure of his father’s three-part Invention in F minor, with chains of sequences, dark ‘Neapolitan’ harmony, and muted accompanying strings. 
 
Mørk’s approach is generally energetic though he’s comparatively leisurely in the opening movement of Wq.170. Though recording is close – the players’ rather than audience’s perspective – this remains a most enjoyable and polished disc. George Pratt