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CD Pick of the Week

Classical WETA 90.9 FM showcases notable new (or newly reissued) CDs each week. Hear selections from the CD on-air throughout the week, and check online to learn more about the artist and the music. Our friends at ArkivMusic join in by putting that recording on sale for the entire week and contributing a portion of each sale to WETA.

November 24, 2014

CD cover

C.P.E. Bach Collected Works

Warner Classics 463.492

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach composed in almost every genre except opera, and the variety of his output is reflected in the works featured in this collection of mostly re-released performances. Among the luminaries represented here are Gustav Leonhardt and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Ton Koopman and his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, cellist Anner Bylsma, organist Herbert Tachezi, Philippe Herreweghe and the Choir of Collegium Vocale Ghent, and harpsichordist Bob van Asperen.  American musical scholar Alan Curtis, today known best as a conductor, is featured playing the keyboard rondos that were among the best-known of C.P.E.’s compositions in his lifetime.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was hired as a harpsichordist in the court of Frederick the Great of Prussia in 1740, and was employed there to accompany and teach the flute-playing king for nearly three decades.  It was generally a less-than-satisfying position, and only upon his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann’s death did C.P.E. obtain a more musically-fulfilling post, replacing Telemann as Kantor in Hamburg.  It was here that his creativity flourished.  Baron Gottfried van Swieten, the Austrian ambassador who was so supportive of Mozart and Haydn, encouraged C.P.E. to let his imagination soar.  From this later period in his life we find some of his most influential compositions.

In this 13-CD set there are symphonies, concertos, organ sonatas, many works for solo keyboard, and an oratorio.  Join us this week to hear the music described this way by Lynn René Bayley in Fanfare:  “C.P.E. was a master at taking what sounds like essentially simple material and deconstructing it in such a way that one hears all of its interior structure before he puts it back together again like a quilt pattern.”