, September 2011
When it first came out, this particular recording won a Deutscher Schallplattenpreis (now the ECHO Prize), an industry award that was fully deserved. Nowadays Hartmut Haenchen is still artistic director of the CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra, which has gone on to build up a superb reputation for musicianship. It may appear to be stating the obvious that the orchestra specialises in 18th century repertoire, but it did in fact start out as a new music ensemble!
Roland Münch plays the Migend organ at the Zur Frohen Botschaft Church in Berlin. The instrument is also known as the Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia organ, after the royal who commissioned Johann Migend to build it in 1753. It was completed in 1756 and then moved to another Berlin church following Amalia’s death. It moved a few more times for various reasons, before finally finding a home in Karlshorst in 1960. The organ has a good sound, and has been well recorded here, optimally balanced with the orchestra and harpsichord continuo, and with negligible background noise. Incidentally, the CD does not confirm that this is a DDD recording, but the original Capriccio cover does.
The two Organ Concertos have been surprisingly infrequently recorded as such, due in part to the fact that CPE was more of a general keyboardist than a dedicated organist, and wrote these works to be played on more or less any kind of keyboard—even, in the case of the G major work, on a flute! Consequently, the concertos are far more likely to be recorded by harpsichordists, yet they sound magnificent as organ works, impressively but not excessively virtuosic, packed with typically Emanuelian elegance, variety, depth, controlled excitement and invention.
The brilliant Prelude in D, Wq 70/7 (H 107) and Fantasy and Fugue in C minor, Wq 119/7 help fill out the disc, although they still leave it very short. The Symphonies were poorly distributed over two CDs in the original Capriccio releases—a couple could have gone on here and the rest would all have fitted on a single disc. The Fantasy and Fugue is listed in New Grove under Helm 75.5, not as here under H 103, which appears not to exist. The Packard Humanities Institute’s new edition of Emanuel’s complete works, entitled—yes—Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works, should sort out such discrepancies.
A fine disc in every regard except length.