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CPE Bach and Mozart Orchestral Works

Bach, C P E: Concerto for 2 fortepianos, in F major H 408 (Wq 46), Hamburg Symphony in B minor Wq 182 No. 5
Mozart: Symphony No. 21 in A major, K134, No. 27 in G major, K199

Alexi Lubimov & Juri Martynova (fpianos)
Haydn Sinfonietta Wien, Manfred Huss


This is a curious juxtaposition of 3 symphonies from the 1770s and a concerto from 1740.  I feel I could write an awful lot just about the concerto which starts the disc but this would be to do the whole package a disservice.

The orchestra plays with great alertness throughout and there is a very beautiful string sound with great elegance which suits the slow movements particularly.  Now and then more bite and a few more jagged edges (in the  music, not the ensemble!) would have made the Sturm  und Drang aspects of  the fast movements a bit more vivid, but it is great  to hear such elegant  and polished playing.  The last movement of the CPE  Bach symphony is a fine example of this.  

When I first listened to this disc, I was strongly  reminded of the English Concert’s refined orchestral tone from the 1980s; it was only when I looked at the orchestral list for this recording I saw that Simon Standage was the leader – presumably he was directly responsible for the timbre of both orchestras.

Good recorded sound except for two things: firstly the three symphonies are recorded in a much narrower stereo band than the concerto (they were all recorded at a different time and a different venue to the concerto) and secondly, with such magnificent horn playing of very  difficult parts, is this the ideal wind/string balance?

So to the concerto.  These very distinguished soloists play fine-sounding instruments (the second is placed quite considerably further back than the first) but there is an incongruity to playing two fortepianos from the 1780s in a harpsichord concerto from forty years previous.  

The otherwise interesting sleeve note flounders around on the subject, contradicting  itself a number of times before finally admitting  the choice of pianos was an experiment.  The two pianists play well enough, although the obviously harpsichord writing doesn’t allow either to exploit the tonal resources of their instruments fully.  Why waste such an opportunity of good soloists and instruments with the wrong choice of music?
This is a disc that has done the young Mozart and the mature CPE Bach a  great service and the symphonies are a fascinating and rewarding musical experience.
Steven Devine