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Notes and Editorial Reviews
C.P.E. Bach’s two surviving oboe concertos both began as keyboard concertos that were later transcribed for oboe; their intended performer was probably Johann Christian Fischer, a virtuoso based in Potsdam in the mid 1760s. This would perhaps account for their technical and immensely challenging solo lines, which suggest that, like his father, Carl Philipp Emmanuel revelled in pushing instruments and performers to their limits. The high points of both concertos are their slow movements, which feature music of such beauty and chromatic melancholy, enhanced by muting the oboe with sheep’s wool, that the emotion is profoundly moving.
The concertos are complemented by the Pastorale in A minor and Sonata in G minor. Although the
Pastorale is of uncertain authorship and may have been composed by C.P.E Bach’s brother Wilhelm Friedemann, the Sonata can be dated to the mid 1730s. Like the concertos, this work has a highly effective slow movement, which in this case is the opening movement, containing music of great beauty and high emotional charge. A fast movement follows, and the work concludes with a virtuosic set of variations. Anna Starr performs on the Baroque Oboe.
• Recording made in 2011.
• Includes booklet notes in English and German.
R E V I E W:
C. P. E. BACH Oboe Concertos: in B?, Wq 164/ H466; in E?, Wq 165/H468. Oboe Sonata in g, Wq 135/H549. Pastorale in a, Wq deest • Anna Starr (ob); Jörn Boysen (hpd, cond); Musica Poetica (period instruments) • BRILLIANT 94298 (53:28)
The two concerti and the sonata are the only works that Carl Philipp Emanuel composed for solo oboe; the short Pastorale included here may have been the work of another composer. Furthermore, the two concerti were arranged by C. P. E. himself from two of his keyboard concerti, Wq 39 and Wq 40, respectively.
There have been more than a few recordings of these works, involving both modern and period instruments. Oboists clearly like them, and they make an agreeable impression on the listener. Outer movements are perky, even a bit droll at times, and the slow middle movements possess a contrasting depth of feeling. (Conductor Jörn Boysen goes so far as to claim that, in the Adagio ma non troppo of Wq 165, “long chromatic lines are twisted into each other so that the listener almost feels a sympathetic physical pain upon hearing it.” Fanciful, perhaps, but I can hear what he means.) The sonata is even more changeable in its moods, but overall, what sticks in one’s memory is not pain but pleasure, and the feeling that one has been in the presence of an accomplished, good-natured raconteur.
Anna Starr’s instrument has an appealingly full and somewhat quacky tone. A modern instrument would be easier to control, but the instrument’s (and Starr’s) personality comes forward here. This is not generic playing, by any means. Musica Poetica is a small ensemble of two violins, viola, cello, and double bass. (In the Pastorale, Starr is joined by bassoonist Joaquim Guerra Codina.) In other words, this is hardly big-band Bach. Even so, it doesn’t sound ascetic, thanks to the lively playing of Boysen and his group of strings.
Listeners who want a more orchestral sound might prefer a Naxos disc featuring oboist József Kiss and the Ferenc Erkel Chamber Orchestra. Heinz Holliger also recorded the concertos for Philips. Still, I am very satisfied with Starr and Musica Poetica, and I expect that I will return to this inexpensive CD many times in the future.
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle Read less
Works on This Recording
Pastorale in A minor, Wq deest by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
Anna Starr (Baroque Oboe),
Joaquim Guerra Codina (Bassoon)
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Blasts March 24, 2013
By Dr. Mitchell Gurk (Spencer, MA) See All My Reviews
"Another one with questionable sonics, everything fffff. A shame such treatment to sublime music. Otherwise the performance is worthy."