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C P E Bach & G P Telemann Concertos

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - Keyboard Concertos, Vol.13

Sonatinas in F major, H.463 (W.104) & C major, H.457 (W.103)
Concerto in D minor, H.425 (W.22)

Miklós Spányi, tangent piano [Ghislain Potvlieghe]
Concerto Armonico/Peter Szuts

BIS-CD-1307 TT: 67'34

Georg Philipp Telemann Complete Violin Concertos
Vol. 1 (TWV 51:C2, G8, e3, D9, E2, F2, D10)
L'Orfeo Barockorchester, Elizabeth Wallfisch (Violin & Director)

cpo 999 900-2 [TT 59 mins]

These two volumes from intégrales recording projects of prolific composers arrived together and were well heard in tandem; I would not recommend playing either of them straight through.

Miklós Spányi would seem to be approaching the end of his mammoth task, and these three unpublished works for keyboard and orchestra are less dramatic than might be anticipated from the CPE Bach who has become increasingly popular for his quirky unpredicability; only the finale of the concerto has some Sturm & Drang excitement.

All the concerted 'sonatinas' were written in 1972-74, intended to be 'easier' for growing audiences. The concerto is probably worked up from a flute concerto which has disappeared; that accounts for the atypically constant string accompaniment. Spányi improvised the cadenzas during the recording sessions. I found the two-movement C major Sonatina particularly attractive, displaying the qualities of the tangent piano at its best, with long unaccompanied passages. The first movement is confusingly listed as three tracks; the second is adapted from one of CPEB's keyboard sonatas; which one?

They are all pleasant and make for undemanding listening; the chief interest is in the choice of an unusual keyboard instrument, popular at the time, enjoying now a revival. Ghislain Potvlieghe is the most important pioneer of the tangent piano, which has the strings hit by freely vertically moving wooden slips. Its tone is beautiful and capable of dynamic and tonal variety. On this recording it is notably quiet against the orchestra; an honest but disconcerting balance - best to play the CD at a faairly high level.

Elizabeth Wallfisch is embarking upon recording all Telemann's 20 or more violin concertos; again, these are of moderate technical level, less showy and virtuosic than those of Vivaldi and Locatelli, a deliberate aesthetic choice of the composer's to reject mere ostentatious display. But Elizabeth Wallfisch brings life to everything she does, and these seven short concertos make for delightful listening.

Both these CDs are authoritative and supported by comprehensive research background and impeccable presentation. Recommended for baroque music collectors; you are unlikely to know any of the music.

© Peter Grahame Woolf