Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor
Rebecca Miller, Conductor
Reviews
The Arts Desk

CPE Bach: Symphonies Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Rebecca Miller (Signum)

Think of musical perfection and you think of JS Bach. Every note perfectly placed, every harmonic sequence pleasing in its logic, every extended structure immaculately organised. Crucially, Bach's music never sounds boring or dutiful. You wonder what facial expressions he'd have pulled when listening to these five symphonies composed by his second son Carl Philipp Emmanuel, whose career blossomed during a 28-year spell under the employ of Frederick the Great in Berlin. They're all three-movement works, mostly around ten minutes in duration. You expect early Classical music to be impeccably behaved. Not here. These symphonies are explosive. There are moments where you can't quite believe what you're hearing. The beginning of the Symphony in Eb WQ. 179 is a case in point; the musical equivalent of an excitable Jack Russell terrier bursting into your living room and knocking over the furniture. It's an entire Beethoven Allegro compressed into just a few minutes.

Sample the stabbing violin notes which kick off the D major Symphony WQ. 183. The metric uncertainty suggests the start of Nielsen 3, and when things really kick off it's hard not to giggle at some unfeasibly frenetic flute parts, superbly performed here. The Symphony in B minor is a contrast; the haughtier, strutting opening superficially better behaved, though CPE's gloves come off in a propulsive, fiery finale. There's not a boring minute. Laugh, wince and swoon. Remarkably, this is a live recording; all five symphonies taped in a single evening at the QEH in early 2014. The OAE under Rebecca Miller play with an accuracy and passion that's infectious: this is among the most exciting, adrenalin-filled period instrument recordings you'll hear.

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk
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