The symphonies by Johann Sebastian Bach's sons are, as Bach Concentus condcutor Ewald Demeyere notes, underrepresented in performance. Several of Bach's sons, and not just the three heard here, wrote symphonies (the ones by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, who perhaps understood his father's music best of all, are especially interesting), and the ones they wrote were popular works that outlasted the initial circumstances of their composition. The five symphonies here fall generally into the galant/empfindsam (elegant and sensitive) categories that defined German instrumental music in the third quarter of the 18th century, but they go beyond it with many details of structure; the single empfindsam example by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, for example, is almost delicate in its harmonic construction, sliding gracefully from E minor to its major key area. Any performance of this repertoire is better than none, and this album should find a ready place in library and Classical-period symphony collections. It may, however, inspire other performers to do better; in the hands of Demeyere's Bach Concentus, the five symphonies have a tendency to sound the same, with few distinctions of dynamics, articulation, or even mood. The Symphony in G minor, Op. 6/6, of Johann Christian Bach is disappointing, losing its plaintively Mozartian mood, but the performances are certainly competent and bring to light the basics of a neglected repertory. They are, moreover, clearly and cleanly recorded.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Symphony in E flat major, for two horns, two oboes, strings & basso continuo, HW 1/10|
|Symphony in E minor, for strings & basso continuo, Wq 177 - H 652|
|Symphony in E flat major, for two horns, two oboes, strings & basso continuo, Op. 6/3 - W C9|
|Symphony in D minor, for strings & basso continuo, HW 1/3|
|Symphony in G minor, for two horns, two oboes, strings & basso continuo, Op. 6/6 - W C12|