Xenia Löffler / Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Oboe Concertos; Symphonies Wq. 180 & 181

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This is billed as an album of oboe concertos by C.P.E. Bach, and indeed, oboist Xenia Löffler does justice to the pair of oboe concertos featured. These are galant-style works, with elegant melodies and plenty of examples of the melodic and harmonic surprises that made Bach's eldest son so popular in the middle of the 18th century. The variegated opening movements must have been an absolute delight for audiences of the day. However, the main attraction here is the two symphonies, from the same period (ca. 1750s), and much less played than C.P.E.'s later "Sturm und Drang" works from Hamburg. These are in major keys, but they display the composer's characteristic dramatic flair. The opening movement of the Symphony for winds, strings, and basso continuo in F major, Wq. 181, grows unexpectedly out of a lengthy unison opening, a masterstroke that gives one an idea of what Mozart, who didn't admire many other composers, admired about this one. The Symphony for 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings, and basso continuo in G major, Wq. 180, has its thematic material take shape from brilliant orchestral figuration. Doubtless in passages like these, the engineering idea was to highlight the silvery string sound of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under George Kallweit, and the music is stirring. Yet in the slow movements, the sound is harsh. Berlin's Teldex Studio is made to sound like a church, an odd decision in that these works were probably written for private chambers. However, this on a very short list of complaints about what is generally an exciting C.P.E. Bach album and a good place to start with the composer's early career.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Concerto for oboe, strings and basso continuo Wq. 165, H. 468 E-flat major
1 05:59 Amazon
2 07:44 Amazon
3 05:53 Amazon
Symphony for winds, strings and basso continuo Wq. 181, H. 656 F major
4 03:25 Amazon
5 03:26 Amazon
6 04:44 Amazon
Concerto for oboe, strings and basso continuo Wq. 164, H. 466 B-flat major
7 07:13 Amazon
8 07:19 Amazon
9 05:17 Amazon
Symphony for 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings and basso continuo Wq. 180, H. 655 G major
10 03:58 Amazon
11 03:58 Amazon
12 04:09 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick