C.P.E. Bach's symphonies are wonderful: wild, colorful, unpredictable, and totally captivating. Along with 12 obbligato parts, passionate string cantilenas alternate with characterful woodwind solos. While these symphonies are nominally all in major keys, Bach's harmonic range is so wide, and so committed to nearly manic emotional highs and lows, that he packs an almost exhausting amount of activity into a very small space. Of the four works included here, the symphonies in E-flat and F (Wq183 Nos. 2 and 3) are particularly vivid. They are also quite impressively played and conducted. All of the wind soloists make a strong impression, and the strings sound a good bit warmer than they do in many other period-instrument ensembles.
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Didier Talpain conducts with plenty of the necessary fire without ever jeopardizing good ensemble or pushing the music over the line into mere crudeness. The C minor harpsichord concerto is a touch less interesting, if only because the scoring is less colorful and the solo instrument has a somewhat spindly tone. Still, its four movements represent an almost symphonic structure (the actual symphonies have three movements each), and the quality of invention is typically high. No complaints about the engineering either. A very enjoyable release.
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