This is the last in a series of 20 albums devoted by the BIS label and Hungarian keyboardist Miklós Spányi to the keyboard concertos of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. BIS is to be commended for this ambitious project, which one hardly thinks will repay the investment but which has exposed a great deal of interesting music. This release is devoted to double concertos, which were rare in Bach's output as they were in that of other composers of the time. The incongruously named Sonatina in D major, Wq 109, is a real oddity and should strongly appeal to anyone enamored of this Bach son's idiosyncratic musical thinking. It is a work for two keyboards (here harpsichords) and quite a large orchestra, including horns, flutes, oboes, trumpets, and timpani. It is a sort of giant Divertimento or Feldparthie in an unusual eight-movement form, and Spányi and the group Concerto Armonico Budapest deserve credit for letting the work be weird instead of trying to smooth off its edges. The late Concerto for fortepiano, harpsichord, and orchestra in E flat major, Wq 47, written in the last year of Bach's life, is also intriguing; the two solo instruments are specified in the score, and their timbral qualities are played off nicely against each other. In its expansive structure it is not too different from the Concerto for two harpsichords in F major, Wq 46, written some 50 years before. The only real objection here is the sound, usually a BIS strong point: working in a Budapest studio, the engineers give the properly small orchestra an overresonant sound that drowns out the subtle keyboard effects in, especially, the E flat major concerto. Nevertheless, an enjoyable romp full of the surprises that are essential to the music of this composer.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto in E flat major, Wq. 47 (H.479)|
|Concerto in F major, Wq. 46 (H. 408)|
|Sonatina in D major, Wq. 109 (H. 543)|