Gramophone (GB), 01. October 1988
Various orchestras are at work here of which the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach orchestra, under their director Hartmut Haenchen are perhaps the liveliest; the repertoire to which they have been entrusted includes the Hamburg Symphonies Wq182 (six symphonies), Wq183 (four symphonies), five miscellaneous Berlin symphonies, five flute concertos and the two organ concertos.
Februar 1988, Seite 101
THE music of C. P. E. Bach is still extraordinarily neglected in the concert hall. Even the gramophone has been remarkably dilatory in exposing this brilliantly original and quirky genius. The early stereo era first centred on the characteristically engaging Double Concerto for harpsichord and fortepiano and some chamber music, and then went on to discover other concertos and the sinfonias. Now, belatedly, the East German company, Delta Music, have embarked on a complete edition on their Capriccio label. Both NA and I welcomed a set of the so-called 'Berlin' Symphonies excellently performed by the appropriately named Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra under spirited direction by Hartmut Haenchen (Capriccio/Target CC27 105, 9/87), which I discussed in last November's "Cassette Commentary". So like Oliver Twist I asked for more and Vol. 2 bears out the promise of the first issue. It offers the familiar six 'Hamburg' sinfonias in comparably bracing performances by the same group. Their invention is full of unexpected avant-garde twists and turns of melody, rhythm and modulation, so that even if one has heard them before, the ear is consistently intrigued. The Bach group use modern instruments but the crisp, athletic style of the allegros has a distinct air of 'authenticity' in texture and sharpness of focus, yet slow movements have unashamed expressive feeling. On tape the sound is very bright on Side I and needs a little control, but Side 2 is smoother; nevertheless, overall the reproduction makes a stimulating effect (CC27 145).
Berliner Sinfonien, November 1987, Seite 143
ONE of the most valuable current ventures of the gramophone has just been inaugurated by the Capriccio label and if it is successful it will undoubtedly put this (until now) small, but enterprising label firmly on the map. The intention is to record all the music of C.P.E.Bach, a highly original and always rewarding composer who until relatively recently has lain (neglected by the majority of music-lovers) in his father's shadow. We have already become familiar with the sharp originality of the music of his six "Hamburg" Sinfonias, which have been recorded more than once, and of some of his concertos too, but a complete survey has been long overdue. So let me give the warmest welcome to Vol. I which includes five of the so-called "Berlin" Symphonies, Wq174-5, 1789 and 181 scored for oboes or flutes (sometimes both—notably Wq181 where the use of flutes in the Andante, after oboes in the first movement, adds a piquant touch). The performances, praise be, use modern instruments, so there are none of the more horrid excrescences of `authenticism', yet textures are light and airy, tempos of outer movements are exhilaratingly brisk, and slow movements are genuinely expressive and communicate warmly. In short, this is very rewarding music-making. The players "reach the heart of the music effortlessly and passionately" in the words of NA who was equally enthusiastic about the new series. The cassette is in the demonstration class and my only regret is that there are, unforgivably, no musical notes, although we are told that the performances, by the C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra directed by Hartmut Haenchen were recorded in Berlin's famous Jesus-Christus Kirche, the venue of so many successful past ventures from Furtwangler onwards (Capriccio CC27 105, 9/87).