A STUNNING AND SURPRISINGLY EXOTIC CHORAL 'ET MISERICORDIA' AWAITS THE LISTENER IN CPE BACH'S 'MAGNIFICAT'!
In May 1723, while working in Leipzig at Thomaskirke, JSB composed his first version of the "Magnificat". Some years later he prepared a new version changing the key from E flat to D major and omitting the four Christmas interpolations, thus making it suitable for performance on any of the major liturgical feasts. This is the version Ledger chose to use on this recording (as do conductors of subsequent recordings).
This version is richly scored for three trumpets, drums, two flutes, two oboes, strings and continuo. It has a five-part chorus which is a deviation from the four-part vocal texture of church cantatas. Another departure from procedure is the deliberate avoidance of recitative and of 'da-capo' arias. All of this results in a work of striking conciseness and musical strength.
Although CPE Bach's output consists mostly of harpsichord music, he also managed to compose a respectable body of choral works, the first of these being the "Magnificat" of 1749.
The 'Magnificats' of the two Bachs illustrate well the stylistic changes which took place in music during the first half of the eighteenth century. JSB's composition is a brilliant celebratory work in a very 'traditional' setting, written in an accepted language of musical and literary symbolism using styles and techniques that had been established during the previous century.
CPE's 'Magnificat' takes account of the 'modern' virtues of directness and comprehensibility, but does not entirely eschew traditional techniques. For example (and there are many more) the opening chorus, with its predominantly homophonic texture and strongly pulsed rhythms, already shows the influence of the new symphonic writing. CPE Bach's greatest achievement was his skillful combining of the traditional and the progressive!
This recording is a LEDGER MASTERPIECE!!!The King's College Choir is in top form: wonderfully clear-voiced boy sopranos, mellow velvety male altos, sonorous tuneful tenors and flexible light sounding basses. Great vocal balance, excellent emotional output and flawless diction. I hope fervently that they remaster and reissue this wonderful recording from 1977.