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CD Review

Bach Family

Chamber Music for Two Flutes

Hansgeorg Schmeiser & Jan Ostrý, flute
Eszter Haffner, viola
Ingomar Rainer, harpsichord
Othmar Müller, cello
Nimbus NI5869 79min
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Throughout the history of Western music, talents that run in families are not uncommon, but only a few managed to rise above the ordinary. The Bachs are certainly one at the very top of the ladder. This very attractive programme focuses on four of Johann Sebastian's siblings and one of his grandsons.

Of the quartet featured, three, Friedemann, Christian and Emanuel all accentuated tendencies created in their father's music, and subsequently these were to become decisive in the history of music. Christian arranged and partly anticipated the work and style of Mozart, Emanuel preceded Beethoven's expressive language and Friedemann was the forerunner of Chopin's mature pieces, especially in his piano polonaises. Christoph was somewhat less influential, and as a composer he was too much committed to the agreeable courtly genre, something which hampered his reputation and barred his name from achieving a lasting profile. His son Friedrich Ernst was more gifted, and at 18 he was already on the verge to begin a brilliant career as a concert performer in England's capital. Indeed he was to be the last Bach with musical significance.

In the second half of the 18th century, the flute had gained important recognition, and was one of the main instruments of the aristocratic gentleman as well as of the educated citizen, so it is no surprise that many composers of the time devoted many efforts to promote its ethereal sound, the Bachs included.

Performances are delightful throughout and each track has a life-affirming charm that consistently enchants. A generously filled disc superbly recorded and presented that cries out for a place in everybody's collection.

Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech.