Emmanuel Pahud

C.P.E. Bach: Flute Concertos

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One of the more puzzling remarks about the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach came from Mozart, who said that anyone who listened closely would realize his debt to the German composer. That seemed unlikely, given that Mozart only rarely availed himself of the Sturm und Drang ("storm and stress") style of C.P.E.'s keyboard music. But listen to this release by flutist Emmanuel Pahud and you'll get an idea of what Mozart was talking about. It's not just that the flute concertos are basically galant in style, not Sturm und Drang. It's a certain nervous energy that makes the flute bloom rapidly out of squarish themes and keeps you guessing as to what's coming next. Pahud has previously recorded music by C.P.E. and others in the orbit of the so-called "Flute King," Frederick the Great of Prussia, and he gives this music an immediacy that avoids cuteness, aided by sharp work from the Kammerakademie Potsdam under veteran historical-instrument conductor Trevor Pinnock. Pahud himself uses a modern flute, which works in this case: the athletic, but not showy, quality of C.P.E. Bach's flute writing in the outer movements lends itself well to the modern instrument. Sample the first movement of the Concerto in G major for flute and orchestra, Wq 169, whose writing has some similarities to Mozart's Flute Concerto No. 1 in G major, K. 313. This is a crackling, energetic recording of music that until now hasn't really received its due.

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