1 CD - VC 7 90800-2 - (p) 1989


Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Cello Concerto in A major, Wq. 172 (H439)
19' 19"

- Allegro 6' 32"

- Largo con sordini, mesto
7' 44"

- Allegro assai
5' 03"

Cello Concerto in A minor, Wq. 170 (H432)
25' 42"

- Allegro assai
9' 26"

- Andante 9' 47"

- Allegro assai 6' 29"

Cello Concerto in B flat major, Wq. 171 (H436)
24' 46"

- Allegretto 8' 11"

- Adagio
10' 05"

- Allegro assai 6' 30"

Anner BYLSMA, cello & cadenzas

- Elizabeth Walffisch, Graham Cracknell, Peter Lissauer, Marshall Marcus, Julie Miller, Catherine Weis, First violins
- Susie Carpenter-Jacobs, Nicola Cleminson, Susan Kinnersley, Catherine Mackintish, Roy Mowatt, Henrietta Wayne, Second violins
- Katherine Hart, Annette Isserlis, Martin Kelly, Rosemary Nalden, Violas
- Timothy Mason, Susan sheppard, Susan Towb, Richard Tunnicliffe, Cellos
- Judith Evans, Chi-chi Nwanoku, Double-bass
- John Toll, Harpsichord

Gustav LEONHARDT, conductor


Luogo e data di registrazione
All Saint's Church, Petersham, London (England) - 18/20 Novembre 1988

Registrazione: live / studio

Tim Handley

Balance engineer

Nicholas Parker

Executive Producer

Simon Foster

Prima Edizione LP

Prima Edizione CD
Virgin Classics | LC 7873 | VC 7 90800-2 | 1 CD - durata 70' 11" | (p) 1989 | DDD

Cover Art

View of Berlin from the south: Coloured engraving, 1750 (detail)


Of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s fifty-odd concertos, thirty-eight date from the years 1738-68 when he was court harpsichordist to Frederick the Great, and of these, six exist in different versions for various solo instruments. The three cello concertos recorded here also survive in versions for harpsichord and for flute. Unlike his father, whose keyboard concertos are all arrangements of earlier works for string or wind instruments, Emanuel Bach is thought to have made his arrangements from original harpsichord versions. We cannot, however, be certain of this: of the nine different versions of the three works on this recording, only the cello version of the A minor concerto survives in autograph score. Variants such as ornamental elaborations may have arisen either in the process of arrangement or in the course of subsequent transmission, and such is the idiomatic nature of the writing in each case, with passages rewritten and even expanded or cut, that it is difficult to tell which version may have come first.
Similar uncertainty surrounds the circumstances of the composition of these works. Although they are thought to date from 1750 (A minor), 1751 (B flat) and 1753 (A major), we do not know the particular occasions for which they were intended. Bach himself stated that ‘only a few’ of his concertos were written for his own use, and his music was less frequently performed at court than that of the king’s favourites, Quantz, Graun and Hasse. It is most likely that these concertos were intended for one of Berlin’s flourishing amateur musical societies, possibly the Musikalisches Assemblées organised by Christian Friedrich Schale (1713-1800), himself cellist in the court orchestra and perhaps Bach’s original soloist.
The Germany of Bach’s time, and particularly Prussia under Frederick the Great, formed one of the centres of the European Enlightenment. Although many of its ideas were to survive, this period of enlightened absolutism was shattered by the French Revolution and the events which followed it. Similarly, much of Bach’s music represents not so much a point of departure as a summation of Baroque style and ideas. This is particularly true of the concertos, for although there are elements of sonata form in these works - for example, in the first movement of the B flat concerto recorded here - they remain essentially within the Italian ritornello tradition perfected by Bach’s father, with alternating tutti and solo sections, rather than an harmonic groundplan, providing the work’s dynamic. Much of the material, particularly in the solo sections, is developmental, taking the form of motivic fragmentation and permutation, as in the extended first movement ofthe A minor concerto here. During the solo sections, the orchestra tosses fragments of the opening tutti to and fro while the soloist plays more lyrical ideas or figuration.
The concertos also reflect Bach’s preoccupation with the Baroque doctrine of the affects (Affektenlehre). For Bach, correct use of affect was a means of stimulating an edifying and cathartic experience, an intention very much related to Enlightenment idealism.
The use of distinctive melodic material, often incorporating wide intervallic leaps, the sudden mood changes and harmonic coups - all means to this end - are hallmarks of Bach’s style in general. But it is above all the slow movements, and particularly the Largo of the A major work with its poignant, expressive melodic lines coupled to a wide range of dynamic indications, that recall Bach’s own words from his treatise on keyboard playing:
A musician cannot move unless he too is moved. He must of necessity feel all of the affects he hopes to arouse in his audience, for the revealing of his own humour will stimulatea like humour in the listener... And so, constantly varying the passions, he will barely quiet one before he rouses another.
Mark Audus, 1989