Notes and Editorial Reviews
J. C. BACH
Erich Hoeprich (cl); Nachtmusique
GLOSSA GCD 920608 (63:51)
If anyone wonders who might have inspired Mozart to write such wonderful music for clarinet, and indeed for winds in general, an answer is suggested by the works on this disc, published posthumously in 1782, the year of the composer’s death. Johann Christian Bach befriended the eight-year-old Mozart when the latter visited London in 1764–65; although they would only meet in person once more,
at Paris in 1778, they maintained a correspondence marked by mutual admiration and respect. Mozart studied the works of “the London Bach” closely, and some musicologists consider Bach, and not Mozart’s father, Leopold, to be the primary formative musical influence on Mozart’s life.
J. C. Bach exercised a profound influence on the nascent art of orchestral instrumentation and was particularly noted for his writings for winds (cf. Stanley Sadie’s groundbreaking article in the April 1956 issue of
Music & Letters
). While his compositions were originally grounded in the
style, Bach was a progressive musical thinker, and these works foreshadow not only Mozart’s wind serenades but also the pieces for wind ensemble of Beethoven. All cast in major keys (three apiece in B? and E?), these sextets are unalloyed delights – endlessly energetic and melodious, rhythmically and melodically inventive, witty and yet also substantial. This music is so infectious that it requires effort
to get up and start dancing around the house as it is playing.
To my knowledge, there have been three previous recordings of these works: a 1967 set with the London Wind Soloists, reissued on Testament; an out-of-print Pye LP with the Camden Wind Ensemble; and a 1991 recording on MDG with the Consortium Classicum. I won’t quibble with anyone who treasures the venerable London set, but I find the blend of period instruments here (natural horns and five-key clarinets and bassoons) slightly superior, and both are preferable to the MDG group. The ensemble’s leader is Eric Hoeprich, one of the world’s most renowned exponents of the Classical-era clarinet. The sound quality is well nigh ideal, and the booklet informative and well illustrated. Enthusiastically recommended.
FANFARE: James A. Altena
Works on This Recording
Featured Sound Samples
Symphony for 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns and 2 Bassoons no 3 in E flat: I. Allegro
Symphony for 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns and 2 Bassoons no 6 in B flat: I. Allegro
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