Notes and Editorial Reviews
These six J.C. Bach symphonies were assigned the opus number 18 by music publisher and seller William Forster, who began to publish them as Bach was dying in the autumn of 1781. All are finely crafted works, but Nos. 1, 3, and 5, scored for double orchestra, are particularly impressive. Bach's unusual configuration is comprised of two string sections, seated left and right, with horns and oboes on one side and flutes on the other (the bassoon could be in either group). With this arrangement Bach was able to create some splendid effects, such as the antiphonal exchange of musical ideas. No. 1's Spiritoso first movement fairly leaps with coiled energy but also contains many finely graded quieter moments. No. 3's jubilant finale features some
beautifully scored woodwind passages, while No. 5 ends with a grand minuet in the manner of Haydn.
Symphonies 2, 4, and 6 actually began life in the opera house. No. 2 is the overture Bach's opera Lucio Silla, its three sections conforming to those of a symphony. Symphony No. 6, compiled from the overture and two ballet movements from the opera Amadis de Gaule, probably was not even arranged by Bach. However, his compositional genius ensures that the impact and enjoyment of these "symphonies" is in no way diminished by their contrived origins. Another guarantee of enjoyment is provided by Anthony Halstead and the Hanover Band, who offer fresh and lively readings throughout. As is usually the case with period ensembles of this type, the dynamics have plenty of impact, especially from those watery natural horns--but the colorful woodwinds occasionally steal the show. Nicely balanced, widely staged sound from CPO makes this a disc well worth investigating.
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Grand Overtures (6), Op. 18 by Johann Christian Bach
Written: by 1781; London, England
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