Ross Pople

J.C. Bach: 4 Symphonies Concertantes

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One thing that has become apparent in the rescue operation involving the reputation of Johann Christian Bach is that with him lay a number of undiscovered secrets about the development of Western music in the eighteenth century. For one thing, Bach was the king of the sinfonia concertante, a stepchild of the Baroque concerto grosso that did not survive into the era of the romantics, except in rare works like Beethoven's Triple Concerto; both Haydn and Mozart paid tribute to the form in a work or two, but didn't invest as much energy into developing as did Bach, who composed at least 16 of them. A judicious choice of four is featured on ASV Quicksilva's J.C. Bach: 4 Symphonies Concertantes. These are modern instruments performances, and while the standard for J.C. Bach is mostly set with the period instrument crowd, his work easily survived the modern instrument treatment. Conductor Ross Pople shapes the four concerti using the music of Bach's pupil Mozart as a model, and this approach works very well for the youngest Bach. While this recording might not be as enthralling to those already well acquainted with Bach as a top-flight period instrument performance, for some listeners the modern instrument option might well be preferable, and all of these performances are excellent, particularly the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for flute, 2 clarinets, bassoon, and 2 horns.

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