Carus-Verlag's Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach: Concerti features the Freiburger Barockorchester in late orchestral works of the "Bückeberg" Bach; it is the third volume in a series titled The Sons of J.S. Bach. You would think by the second decade of the 21st century Carus-Verlag would give listeners some credit for knowing that Bach's sons are not "Dad" and perhaps knowing the difference between them; nevertheless, such potted designations remain. In any event, this disc is annotated by arch Bach family expert Ulrich Leisinger; of the three works represented here, two appear wholly new to recordings and the third is the penultimate Bach son's most famous symphony. Finding "new" works for this Bach is no mean feat for this Bach, as the vast majority of his compositions burned in World War II after being moved from Bückeberg to Berlin for safekeeping. Leisinger himself discovered the score in use here for the Sinfonia à 8 in G major, BR C23, among some manuscripts returned to Germany from Moscow in the 1960s; it was previously thought lost. The Concerto Grosso in E flat, BR C43, is actually a piano concerto despite being designated as a "grosso" by the composer; it is one among several he is known to have written and this also appears to be a recording premiere with Christine Schornsheim playing a Christoph Kern 2007 rebuild of an 18th-century Anton Walter instrument. The third work is the Symphony in B flat, BR C28, which will already be known to those conversant with J.C.F. Bach, as it is his best-known symphony.
In some respects, this is an unusual outing for the Freiburger Barockorchester in that it does indeed focus mainly on the Baroque, despite forays into Mozart opera and a smattering of selections belonging to the Classic. It is brilliant in spots, but overall this is not the best recording; the sound is distant and indifferent, and soloist Schornsheim has a terrible time getting heard in the Concerto Grosso as her instrument is out of balance with the rest of the band. The playing overall is underpowered and somewhat routine, and the sound quality only makes it seem more so. However, on the bright side both of the previously unrecorded works are well worth hearing, especially to those who value the works of this member of the Bach family. The G major symphony contains a number of unusual features and the Concerto Grosso some genuine moments of beauty, though a long passage scored in dotted halves for the oboes with an arpeggiated accompaniment from the solo keyboard in the "Romanza" seems to go on way too long owing to the uninspired nature of the reading. Nevertheless, J.C.F. Bach's followers will be grateful to experience what this adds to his catalog, and Leisinger's notes are well written and informative.