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J.C. Bach: Symphonies, Etc / Standage, AAM


Release Date: 11/23/2004 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 713   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Rachel BrownFrank De BruineSimon StandageDavid Watkin
Conductor:  Simon Standage
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Stylish performances of music by the greatest immediate predecessor of Mozart.

J C Bach tends to be overshadowed by the huge achievements of his father and the considerable achievement of his half brother C P E Bach, but I cannot imagine anyone who likes Haydn or Mozart being disappointed with their purchase of this music by the greatest of all their immediate predecessors, in whatever format. The only significant competition comes from the numerous (excellent) CDs of J C’s music from CPO.

Adriana in Siria was JC’s third opera after he had settled in London. It is likely that Mozart, whom JC befriended on his visit to London, heard it there, since either he or his father Leopold wrote a set of variations
Read more on the aria Cara, la dolce fiamma. The three-movement overture is a symphony in all but name, well worth hearing and a fine opening to the recording, in such a sympathetic performance. The sprightly first movement leads to a truly charming andante and a lively finale. Sadly, the opera itself was not a success, probably as a result of the spoiling tactics of a claque.

If you like Haydn’s Sturm und Drang Symphonies, you will find Op.6/6 in g particularly appealing. J.C. Bach did not initiate the craze for Sturm und Drang - the initial impulse came from the early writings of Goethe - but he was a master of the style and this fine work was probably the model for Haydn’s Symphony No.39 and Mozart’s No.25, both in that key; it can stand comparison with either of those works. It receives a sympathetic and enjoyable performance here – perhaps just a shade too detached for those who like their Sturm und Drang strong and emotional.

The first movement makes a powerful statement from the start in a lively performance which could have been just a shade more forceful. The affective power of the slow movement is well brought out, but not laboured. This, the longest movement of the work by a considerable margin, carries its emotional weight with thoughts that often lie too deep for tears. The stormy finale is especially well performed.

The Op.18 works were published as a set of six at about the time of J.C.’s death, three works for single and three for double orchestra. Though described by the publisher, Forster, as ‘Grand Overtures’, they are more correctly classified as symphonies in three movements. Forster was a notoriously lax publisher and the performances here were considerably – and convincingly – edited by Richard Maunder.

Op.18/1 also begins powerfully, though the first movement as a whole is lively rather than profound; the performance exactly matches the direction, spiritoso. The second movement is marked andante; the performance certainly matches that direction, but the forward motion is maintained at the expense of the potential affective power of the music. The rousing account of the final allegro, however, more than makes amends. The brilliantly written Op.18/4 also receives a good performance.

The least interesting work here is the Sinfonia concertante for flute, oboe, violin and cello – hardly in the same league as Mozart’s two works with that title, but, even so, well worth hearing. Like everything here it receives a sympathetic performance, with Simon Standage himself taking the violin part.

The recording is a trifle reverberant but I was not troubled by this. The list of performers in the booklet includes Ian Watson on the harpsichord, to little effect, I fear, since he is mostly inaudible. The continuo should not be over-prominent but it should be (just) audible. Otherwise the Blackheath Concert Halls are one of Chandos’s favourite recording venues and the engineers achieve an especially good sense of stereo placement, especially in the work for double orchestra.

The booklet, with notes by Richard Maunder, is most informative. The photograph of the Academy cannot have been taken at these recording sessions, as it includes a theorbo, not employed or needed for J.C. Bach.

This is a very appealing recording of music by a composer who is still not generously represented in the catalogue.

Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Grand Overtures (6), Op. 18: no 4 in D major by Johann Christian Bach
Conductor:  Simon Standage
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1781 
Date of Recording: 01/1993 
Venue:  Blackheath Concert Halls, London 
Length: 10 Minutes 54 Secs. 
2.
Grand Overtures (6), Op. 18: no 1 in E flat major for Double Orchestra by Johann Christian Bach
Conductor:  Simon Standage
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Classical 
Written: 1779; London, England 
Date of Recording: 01/1993 
Venue:  Blackheath Concert Halls, London 
Length: 13 Minutes 49 Secs. 
3.
Symphonies (6), Op. 6: no 6 in G minor by Johann Christian Bach
Conductor:  Simon Standage
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1770 
Date of Recording: 01/1993 
Venue:  Blackheath Concert Halls, London 
Length: 15 Minutes 1 Secs. 
4.
Sinfonia concertante for Flute, Oboe, Violin and Cello in C major, C 43 by Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Rachel Brown (Flute), Frank De Bruine (Oboe), Simon Standage (Violin),
David Watkin (Cello)
Conductor:  Simon Standage
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1775; London, England 
Date of Recording: 01/1993 
Venue:  Blackheath Concert Halls, London 
Length: 18 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Notes: This selection was realized using the Richard Maunder edition of the score.
Cadenza: Simon Standage
Arranger: Richard Maunder. 
5.
Adriano in Syria: Overture by Johann Christian Bach
Conductor:  Simon Standage
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Classical 
Written: 1764; London, England 
Date of Recording: 01/1993 
Venue:  Blackheath Concert Halls, London 
Length: 6 Minutes 47 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Adriano in Siria, W. G6: Overture: I. Allegro con brio
Adriano in Siria, W. G6: Overture: II. Andante
Adriano in Siria, W. G6: Overture: III. Allegro assai
Grand Overture in E flat major, Op. 18, No. 1, W. C26: I. Spiritoso
Grand Overture in E flat major, Op. 18, No. 1, W. C26: II. Andante
Grand Overture in E flat major, Op. 18, No. 1, W. C26: III. Allegro
Symphony in G minor, Op. 6, No. 6, W. C12: I. Allegro
Symphony in G minor, Op. 6, No. 6, W. C12: II. Andante piu tosto adagio
Symphony in G minor, Op. 6, No. 6, W. C12: III. Allegro molto
Symphonie concertante in C major, W. C43: I. Allegro
Symphonie concertante in C major, W. C43: II. Larghetto
Symphonie concertante in C major, W. C43: III. Allegretto
Grand Overture in D major, Op. 18, No. 4, W. C27: I. Allegro con spirito
Grand Overture in D major, Op. 18, No. 4, W. C27: II. Andante
Grand Overture in D major, Op. 18, No. 4, W. C27: III. Rondo: Presto

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