Avant garde. Eccentric. A maniac. Wild and adventurous. Off the wall. Extraordinary. No marketing hyperbole - this is how the players of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment describe Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach and his music. One of the many children of JS Bach, CPE Bach always lived in his father’s shadow, and now is an almost unknown figure at least beyond the classical cogniscenti. How can such an unknown be considered a gamechanger? A listen to his music reveals just why – it constantly shifts, wrongfooting the listener when they least expect it with wild changes of direction and colour – it is bright, effervescent, and is a fascinating link between the music of his father (and the Baroque era) and Joseph Haydn (and the Classical era).
…For fans of C.P.E Bach, this disc will be fascinating. For fans of late Baroque and early Classical music who don't already know C.P.E.'s music, it will be revelatory.
This is an important document, not least because what is actually captured on these discs is the first performance of this work since 1772. The score is presently housed in the archive of the Berlin Sing-Akademie after its discovery in the Ukraine. C.P.E.’s version of the Christ story is a dynamic one, with plenty of drama and much interaction between the various soloists and the chorus - a chorus that represents the Jews as well as performing the chorales.
C.P.E. Bach's "Magnificat" is one of the glories of the choral repertoire, and, like other reviewers, I envy you your first experience of this magnificent music. I first heard it in the impressive performance by Philip Ledger and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields. I think Rilling's performance is even better, though, more supple and nuanced, without sacrificing speed and intensity.