This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is the second recording of C. P. E. Bach's late quartets, Wq93-5, to have come my way in the past three months or so; but the Concerto in A major, Wq29, has not appeared in these pages for a long while. The last recording I can remember was issued on the Arion label during the mid-1970s. It's an attractive work, full of vitality and technically demanding for the solo harpsichordist.
Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra give a fine account of it. The somewhat quirky character of Bach's writing, the spiky tuttis and the illusory quality of improvisation emanating from the music suit Koopman's ebullient personality rather well. The outer movements are wonderfully energetic and Koopman's own crisp articulation and
well-turned phrases are admirably complemented by the vigorous support of the string tuttis. These provide a vivid contrast with the darkly coloured Largo, where the harpsichord is accompanied by muted strings. There are striking tonal contrasts here, too, with Koopman's remarkably bright-sounding instrument against the soft and sombre sonority of the strings, which inhabit the middle and lower territory of their range for the most part.
Whilst the Concerto dates from the early 1750s, the three quartets for flute, viola, cello and keyboard belong to 1788, the last year of Bach's life. I am sorry that Koopman prefers a harpsichord to a fortepiano since, although Bach did not specify a type of instrument for these pieces, there are features of the music which suggest that perhaps a piano was uppermost in his mind. 1788 is a very advanced year in history for elaborate solo harpsichord writing. Even the last great representatives of the French school had virtually ceased composing for the instrument by then and the keyboard parts of these quartets strike me as having been conceived in an idiom more naturally suited to a fortepiano. Having said that, I find the performances themselves delightful. Koopman's harpsichord playing is delicate and infectiously rhythmic and he is sensitively partnered by a particularly fine group of players. The flautist, Wilbert Hazelzet is well known to readers of these pages for his outstandingly sensitive and warm interpretations of baroque repertoire; his flute playing here is all that we might expect, and more, for he has penetrated the elusive world of Empfindsamkeit in a most affecting manner. Viola and cello, the remaining two instruments of the ensemble, are also first rate. In short, this is chamber playing of a high order and I need not hesitate to give the recital a wholehearted recommendation. It is beautifully recorded.'
-- Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone [12/1987]
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