CPE Bach: Magnificat
By Matt F
CPE Bach, out of all of JS Bach’s musical sons, is probably the most consistently rewarding no matter where you venture with him. JC Bach had his charms (I’m particularly fond of his vocal music and arias) and WF Bach wrote some fascinating keyboard works, but CPE wrote brilliant orchestral music, choral pieces, chamber music, and keyboard works. Much like his father, everything he approached was done with a great level of expertise.
Harmonia Mundi has a released a clever little disc mirroring a charity concert that CPE Bach headed in 1786 consisting of two of his choral works and his much celebrated Symphony in D. The first choral piece, the Magnificat, was written with the intention of replacing his father as the Kantor in Leipzig. Oddly enough (or perhaps intentionally so) I hear very little JS Bach in that piece, instead I sense a very strong Handelian influence, which in a way makes sense. Handel knew how to write music for a celebration pretty much better than anyone. The 2nd piece, Helig ist Gott, under-stays it’s welcome, clocking in at right around 8 minutes. Bach thought highly of it, believing that it would ensure his immortality, but if there’s a composition in Bach’s body of work that will keep his memory alive, my money is on his Symphony in D. Melodically memorable, concise and economically scored, it fits easily into any CPE Bach revue and almost undoubtedly steals the show (as it does here).