C. P. E. Bach: Concertos & Symphonies II

[Jacques Zoon flute, Bruno Delepelaire cello], Berliner Barock Solisten, Reinhard Goebel
deutsche harmonia mundi 888750839725
Sinfonias in E flat Wq179, & in G H 667
Concertos for flute in G Wq169 & cello in B flat Wq171

Full marks to the Berlin Philharmonic for continuing to explore early repertoire with scaled-down forces and specialist conductors. Here Reinhard Goebel guides them through four excellent pieces by a composer whose music is suited to many different modes of performance. That is not to say that technical improvements in the instruments and playing techniques does not deprive the music of some of its essential characteristics – the absolute evenness of tone across the solo flute’s range, for example, means that there is not audible sense of strong and weak notes, and likewise the orchestral string playing is so well regulated (with not quite enough air between bow and string for my personal tastes) that – with only a very few exceptions (when Goebel coaxes out some long notes at cadences, for example) – the natural variety of HIP sound is replaced by terraced dynamics and bowings/phrasings that sound artificial. Both soloists clearly enjoy playing C. P. E. Bach’s music, and the orchestra is similarly enthusiastic. Personally, though, period instruments and a little more HIP magic would have lifted what is good into a different category.

Brian Clark