WF Bach: Symphony in D; Symphony in F; Symphony in D minor; Harpsichord Concerto in E minor; Adagio & Fugue in F minor

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COMPOSERS: WF Bach
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Symphony in D; Symphony in F; Symphony in D minor; Harpsichord Concerto in E minor; Adagio & Fugue in F minor
PERFORMER: Raphael Alpermann (harpsichord); Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Stephan Mai
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901772
Wilhelm Friedemann was Bach’s eldest son and the one for whom, by all accounts, he felt most deeply. Though all the music here has been previously recorded, I cannot recall performances that capture the imagination quite as vividly as these. Perhaps the horns are a shade brash and confrontational in the D major Symphony, especially as the piece was intended as an introduction to a Whitsun cantata, but the performance demonstrates very well the richly expressive idiom of this talented but complex member of the Bach clan. The better-known F major Symphony is an earlier piece, containing elements both of the symphony and the older Baroque orchestral suite. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin seems to revel in the little transitional quirks and stylistic paradoxes that make the music so entertaining. What a world of difference lies between these works and the Symphony in D minor which, like the D major, had connection with the Catholic Hofkirche at Dresden. It is cast in two movements, an Adagio and a Fugue, and leaves a deeper impression than any other of the pieces. The Harpsichord Concerto, dating from 1767, is probably the latest work included here. The performance is supple and invigorating, with sensitive contributions from soloist Raphael Alpermann, whose responses to the elegiacally sustained Adagio are deeply felt. Mozart’s arrangement of one of Bach’s keyboard fugues, paired with the younger composer’s own Adagio, concludes the programme. Nicholas Anderson

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