C.P.E. Bach: Cello Concertos in A major Wq172, in B flat major Wq171 & in A minor Wq170

Performances of concertos that make their neglect seem all the more inexplicable

 THE STRAD RECOMMENDS

Musicians

Truls Mørk (cello) Les Violons du Roy/Bernard Labadie

Composer

C.P.E. Bach

Catalogue number

Virgin Classics 9 69449 2

There are elements of performance practice that defy being categorised as ‘modern’ or ‘period’, not least through generating a vibrant dialogue between soloist and orchestra. Such qualities are vividly projected in this beautifully recorded release, in which Truls Mørk and the Canadian group Les Violons du Roy engage in a joyous and naturally flowing conversation. Although performing at modern pitch and with modern instruments, the orchestra effects a neat stylistic compromise by using Baroque bows for this music, and clearly pays close attention to idiomatic bowing articulation.

Yet given the level of energy and commitment in the playing, such issues become unassuming details. Instead one focuses on C.P.E. Bach’s highly expressive and unpredictable melodic invention, wondering how such wonderful concertos have failed to gain a secure place in the repertoire. Certainly Mørk’s fervent advocacy serves the music brilliantly. There’s plenty of elegance and charm in the outer movements of the B flat major Concerto, and the poignancy of the Largo of the A major Concerto is particularly winning, with heartfelt expression from Mørk. Equally compelling is the dramatic and highly charged opening Allegro of the A minor Concerto, treated here to immaculately punctuated delivery by both soloist and orchestra.

Joanne Talbot


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