JC Bach: Six Symphonies, Op. 3

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COMPOSERS: JC Bach
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Six Symphonies, Op. 3
PERFORMER: Hanover Band/Anthony Halstead
CATALOGUE NO: 999 268-2 DDD
Johann Christian was the best-known member of the Bach family in the later 18th century, his operas and orchestral works securing him an international reputation. When, in London in 1764, he befriended the eight-year-old Mozart, it is highly likely that his eminence in those forms helped to stimulate the interest of the younger composer, who immediately set about writing his first symphony.

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Bach’s own earliest symphonies were his six of Op. 3, issued in 1765, but he was already an experienced composer of the ‘Sinfonie’, the three-movement Italian opera overture that could also be played in concert. Though the two genres were barely differentiated at the time, these CDs suggest that Bach took much the greater care over his symphonies. The opera overtures here are rarely more than workmanlike: the faster movements often show more bustle than purpose, though several of the slow movements do display a high degree of elegance.

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The symphonies are altogether livelier affairs, spirited and well-shaped, full of delightful, ingenious touches: again it is the seductive Andantes that most impress. The Hanover Band offers engaging (if occasionally undercharacterised) performances, and I warmly recommend the disc of symphonies. Graham Lock