C.P.E Bach, J.S. Bach: Magnificats / Lewis, Washington Bach Consort Import
Not only are these fine performances, but the disc itself is a stroke of good programming, pairing the familiar--Johann Sebastian Bach's majestic, brilliantly conceived setting of the Magnificat--with the unfamiliar--son Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach's intriguingly lean, preclassical setting of the same text, a masterpiece of the "galant" style just as his father's is a masterpiece of the Baroque. Leading a well-trained chorus of ideal size (approximately 25) and a crack period-instrument band, conductor J. Reilly Lewis imparts energy and dramatic point to the readings of both works. Textures are full yet transparent, with an excellent balance between voices and orchestra. The work of the four soloists is elegant and expressive, and the chorus sings radiantly in both pieces. The recorded sound is excellent. --Ted Libbey
C.P.E. Bach is indeed an acquired taste for many people, but the Magnificat has a universal appeal that sets it apart. Also check out C.P.E. Bach's "Die Auferstehung und himmelfahrt jesu" from his more mature period. Composed a year before his father died, Emmanuel's magnificat naturally and stylistically stands beside his father's wonderful magnificat. However, the later vocal works from his Hamburg period stand more naturally besides Haydn and even Beethoven. Even so, Emmanuel's magnificat shows many characteristics of pre-classical rather than baroque. The "sicut erat" is the only purely polyphonic piece.
I love J.S. Bach's magnificat as well. However, this CD is worth it for Emmanuel Bach's magnificat. Very good performance by all the soloists and the orchestra does an excellent job as well.
Many composers before and after Bach have set the Magnificat, but apart from some of the earliest settings (Palestrina, di Lasso, Morales), few have been recorded.
So, this disc, which pairs the more substantial (nearly half as long again) rendering of the Magnificat by Johann Sebastian's eldest son Carl Philipp Emanuel with his own should be a most welcome addition to any collection. In fact, if you don't have a recording of either Magnificat, this may be the only one you need.
On first hearing, CPE's work had me rapt. I was floored by the festive sweep of the opening chorus. What an exciting, joyous noise coming from the pen of Bach's oldest son, who, while certainly an interesting composer, never struck me as capable of writing something so intense, so capable of pushing the right emotional buttons.
The rest of the work did not disappoint me. Having only recently become familiar with Johann Sebastian's setting via another recording, I more or less expected his son's work to be a "me too" effort. When I was finished listening, however, I was left wondering why I didn't know that CPE had set the Magnificat (heck, I knew that Beethoven had contemplated doing the same during his last great burst of productivity) and, more curiously, why it hadn't been more frequently recorded.
This recording would be worth having for Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Magnificat alone. Fortunately, his father's more famous setting receives an equally fine performance, making the entire CD a worthwhile production.
As a couple of other reviewers have noted, the sound is a bit reverberant (the terms 'echo-y' and 'spacey' were employed), courtesy of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C.
Finally, unless I'm mistaken, Ted Libbey, credited with the "Editorial Review" above, is also the author of this disc's program notes.