Of C.P.E. Bach's ten symphonies, these Orchestral symphonies (4) with Obbligato (12) Parts are his least characteristic. In C.P.E. Bach terms, this means that they are the least individualistic and eccentric and the most appealing and enjoyable of his symphonies. C.P.E. Bach wasn't the weirdest of J.S. Bach's children -- W.F.E., the drunken and dissipated Bach son, has that distinction -- but when he was in the mood, he could write some profoundly strange music, music with abrupt contrasts of tempo, texture, and tonality, music with extreme mood ranging from the delighted past the despairing to the deranged. But as Hartmut Haenchen demonstrates in this 1988 recording with the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestral symphonies (4) are truly the most appealing and enjoyable of C.P.E. Bach's symphonies. Haenchen's stylish phrasing, clear textures, bright colors, and light rhythms make a great case for the works as among the great early symphonies, works on the same level as the early Haydn or Mozart symphonies. The Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra responds with brilliant playing on period instruments and Capriccio captures the performance in clean, crisp digital sound. As good a recording of the C.P.E. Bach Orchestral symphonies (4) as there has ever been.
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