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J. C. Bach: Milanese Vesper Psalms / Jenemann, Concerto Koln

Bach,J.c. / Lunn / Sdco /Concerto Koln / Jenemann
Release Date: 06/28/2011 
Label:  Carus   Catalog #: 83347   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Thomas E. BauerJoanne LunnGeorg Poplutz
Conductor:  Gerhard Jenemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 32 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



J. C. BACH Domine ad adjuvantum. Confitebor tibi Domine. Beatus vir. Laudate pueri Dominum. Magnificat Gerhard Jenemann, cond; Joanne Lunn (sop); Elena Biscuola (alt); Georg Poplutz (ten); Thomas E. Bauer (bs); S German CCh; Concerto Köln (period instruments) CARUS 83347 (2 CDs: 92:26 Text and Translation)


Johann Christian Bach (1735–82) is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Bach family. Music historians are fond of pooh-poohing his music as Read more lightweight and superficial, especially in comparison with that of his older half-brothers, Friedemann and Emanuel. To be sure, Christian Bach’s music lacks the complexity and gravitas of his brothers, or his father, for that matter. His sojourn in Italy (he converted to Catholicism and sometimes went by the alias of Giovanni Cristiano Bacchi) took him in an entirely different direction; eventually he built a reputation as a composer of Italian opera seria , compositionally speaking about as far removed from Lutheran church music as you can get. But surprisingly, Christian Bach’s early years in Italy were spent as a church musician, beginning around 1754 with his apprenticeship to the learned Padre Martini in Bologna. In 1760, Bach took up the position of cathedral organist in Milan; from that time forward he was known as the “Milanese Bach,” even after his emigration to England. The present two-CD set is a collection of sacred works from Christian Bach’s time in Milan. Unfortunately, for many people the word “sacred” conjures up the image of noli me tangere austerity. Not to worry; these are wonderfully exuberant, joyous works. They cause me to wonder why they haven’t been recorded before—or if they have, why there are no current listings in either the Fanfare Archive or ArkivMusic. There is a Magnificat in C, but it’s not the same one recorded here. For all intents and purposes these are world premiere recordings, making this release all the more imperative.


The German title Mailänder Vesperpsalmen has been tacked onto this set, but that’s a bit off the mark, since only three of the five works included are actually based on psalms. I find it helpful to think of these works as symphonies for voices and orchestra; indeed, you will hear pre-echoes of Mozart, Haydn, and lots more in this music. The Confitebor (usually spelled Confiteor) is a multimovement work with a somewhat more serious tone than the rest. But “serious” is a relative concept for Bach; the music is mostly up-tempo and lighthearted, although there are sections in a more learned church style, perhaps a nod toward Martini and Sebastian Bach. The Beatus vir is a sunny work that affords each of the soloists a major aria, interspersed with choral movements. The Laudate pueri has no choral writing; instead, it is given over entirely to the soprano and tenor. The concluding Magnificat in D has lots of trumpet-and-drum writing, and it is fascinating to compare Christian Bach’s treatment of the text with Dad’s from about 37 years earlier. Whereas Old Bach set practically each verse of the Magnificat to separate, characteristic music ( Et misericordia, Esurientes, Fecit potentiam , etc.), Christian Bach is content to lump the text together in larger sections, a more generalized, public kind of statement in keeping with the Zeitgeist.


The set gains immeasurably in value thanks to outstanding contributions from the soloists, choir, and orchestra, especially British soprano Joanne Lunn, whose meltingly beautiful solos indicate a major talent and a promising career. The choir is one of several professional German radio choirs, and it does not disappoint. The orchestra, based in Germany’s leading city for early music, is first-rate. Christian Bach’s orchestral writing is notable for the primacy of the winds, in these scores chiefly the oboes and horns, although the flutes do make an occasional appearance. There are numerous solos and duos for the oboes sprinkled throughout the music, and the two oboists of Concerto Köln produce some of the most attractive sounds I have heard from period oboes. The sound of the whole ensemble is no less appealing, and conductor Gerhard Jenemann has everything under firm but supple control. The recorded sound is the icing on the cake: perfectly balanced and natural. An absolutely first-class production of some unjustly neglected but wonderful music.


FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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Works on This Recording

1.
Domine ad adjuvandum, response for 2 solo voices, chorus & orchestra in G major, CW E14 (T. 203/2) by Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Thomas E. Bauer (), Joanne Lunn (), Georg Poplutz ()
Conductor:  Gerhard Jenemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
Period: Classical 
Written: 1760 
Date of Recording: 11/2009 
Venue:  Birkenhainer Halle, Alzenau-Albstadt 
Length: 5 Minutes 20 Secs. 
2.
Confitebor (Psalm 110), vesper-psalm for 4 solo voices, chorus & orchestra, CW E16 (T. 202/1) by Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Joanne Lunn ()
Conductor:  Gerhard Jenemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
Period: Classical 
Written: 12/1759 
Date of Recording: 11/2009 
Venue:  Birkenhainer Halle, Alzenau-Albstadt 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 
3.
Beatus vir (Psalm 111), vesper-psalm for 4 solo voices, chorus & orchestra, CW E17 (T. 200/6) by Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Thomas E. Bauer ()
Conductor:  Gerhard Jenemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
Period: Classical 
Written: 1758 
Date of Recording: 11/2009 
Venue:  Birkenhainer Halle, Alzenau-Albstadt 
Length: 4 Minutes 19 Secs. 
4.
Laudate pueri Dominum, W E19 by Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Georg Poplutz (), Joanne Lunn ()
Conductor:  Gerhard Jenemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
Period: Classical 
Written: 1760; Milan, Italy 
Date of Recording: 11/2009 
Venue:  Birkenhainer Halle, Alzenau-Albstadt 
Length: 4 Minutes 17 Secs. 
5.
Magnificat in C major, W E22 by Johann Christian Bach
Performer:  Georg Poplutz (), Thomas E. Bauer (), Joanne Lunn ()
Conductor:  Gerhard Jenemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
Period: Classical 
Written: 1760; Italy 
Date of Recording: 11/2009 
Venue:  Birkenhainer Halle, Alzenau-Albstadt 
Length: 3 Minutes 32 Secs. 

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