CPE Bach: Symphonies – D major, WQ 183/1; A major, WQ 182/4; B minor, WQ 182/5; F major, WQ 183/3; E flat major, WQ 179

Reviewed on Thu 05 Mar, 2015

These five works run the gamut of CPE Bach’s often under-appreciated symphonic output, from the early E flat major Symphony of 1757, to two from the 1773 set commissioned by music-loving patron Baron Gottfried van Swieten, as well as two later ‘Orchestra-Symphonies’ from 1780, which feature an expanded ensemble of brass and woodwind. That well-worn phrase ‘Sturm und Drang’ doesn’t quite do justice to the surprises Bach has in store, from the twists and turns of the D major Symphony’s ‘Allegro di molto’ (the first track on the disc) to the restless melancholy of the ‘Largo ed innocentemente’ from the A major Symphony. Rebecca Miller and her period-instrument band give due emphasis to the novelty of the composer’s invention, especially in some fascinating transitions between movements, without drawing undue attention to them. Recorded live at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall in January 2014, these are performances full of nervous energy captured in a reverberantly spacious room.
–Mark Walker