Nachtmusique / Eric Hoeprich

Johann Christian Bach: Sei Sinfonia

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Don't be confused by the title; Sei Sinfonia does not refer to symphonies in the conventional sense, although Johann Christian Bach wrote plenty of them. The Sei Sinfonia of 1782 refers to a publication of six sinfonias -- actually closer to the form of notturno or serenade -- scored for two clarinets, two horns, and bassoon. This was one of Bach's last publications and a critical one in the history of wind chamber literature; although ostensibly designed for outdoor performance, these sinfonias are so low key that they easily could have been played inside. Despite their significance, these works have only been recorded once before as a complete set by the Italian group Piccola Accademia for Stradivarius. On this Glossa disc the expert period wind group Nachtmusique shuffles the order of the six works a little bit for effect in comparison to the Stradivarius release, which presented them straight through as in the original print. Nevertheless, where Nachtmusique seems to have an advantage is the beautiful playing throughout the disc; the horns are particularly secure and the clarinets, mostly carrying the melody line in two parts, sing together as though married. Slow movements are especially good, such as the Largo from the Sinfonia IV in B flat; all of Bach's wind sinfonias are either in E flat or B flat. Anyone fond of 18th century wind music, harmoniemusik, or anything in that general style (such as Mozart's wind serenades) will find this Glossa disc both serene and enchanting. The playing is first-rate; the recording is a little reverberant and recessed, though one's ears almost instantaneously adjust to the sound.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sinfonia No. 3 in E flat
1 5:05
2 1:55
3 2:42
4 1:52
Sinfonia No. 4 in B flat
5 2:44
6 3:13
7 1:11
8 1:27
Sinfonia No. 5 in E flat
9 2:45
10 3:45
11 2:53
12 1:48
Sinfonia No. 6 in B flat
13 3:01
14 2:28
15 2:08
16 1:56
Sinfonia No. 1 in E flat
17 5:28
18 2:48
19 2:03
20 2:54
Sinfonia No. 2 in B flat
21 3:31
22 2:40
23 1:31
24 1:53
blue highlight denotes track pick