x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

CPE Bach cello concertos: Considerable ability meets intricate and lively works

That glittering Rococo moment between the Baroque and the Classical gets captured with this agile performance.

CPE Bach: Cello Concertos

Truls Mørk (cello), Bernard Lamadie (cond), Les Violons du Roy

(Virgin Classics)


Being a son of Johann Sebastian Bach can't have been easy. How do you live up to being the offspring of the greatest composer in the history of western music? Of course, by the time Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach was at the height of his reputation, JS Bach was merely a rather old-fashioned organist, a relic of the Baroque era. CPE, whose fame has suffered since, was for a hundred years or so considered a greater composer than his father, influencing musical greats from Mozart to Mendelssohn. These cello concertos, composed in 1750 and 1753, show why he was such an important figure in the development of European music, encapsulating that splendid, glittering Rococo moment between the Baroque and the Classical. By turns inventive, courtly, subtle and moving, and sparkling with the harpsichord's basso continuo, these are intricate and lively works, nicely played by the Quebec semi-period chamber ensemble, conducted by their founder Bernard Labadie. The soloist, the Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk, offers an agile performance that reveals nothing of the huge obstacle he has had to overcome: a two-year bout of encephalitis that left him with a paralysed left shoulder (a catastrophe for a cellist) and fears that he might never perform in public again. He returned to the stage earlier this year and his considerable abilities seem unimpaired.