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Sunday, October 10, 2004
  Concerto for Harpsichord or Piano and Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 7, No. 5, Allegro di molto (first movement)
Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 7 Tracks 34-46

History is lucky for these two sons. Not all of J.S. Bach's progeny were so smart. One has to wonder how much these lucky children were intimidated by their father's work or if they even had an inkling of the posthumous fame their father was destined to enjoy. It seems the Hamburg Bach gave the old man's manuscripts some careful attention while the London Bach, J.C., may have been looking more toward his own life and the direction musical fashion was taking at the time. At least the works chosen for this anthology, C.P.E.'s Sonata and J.C.'s Concerto, represent those attitudes.

While we may thank C.P.E. for being his father's archivist, J.C. (as seen here) moved this legacy toward the piano writing of the future. Listening to Johann Christian's concerto it is easy to imagine how the scales and chords nearly organized themselves under his fingers. Once done with this piece, a new one beckons. There is a balance and rhythm to this music as instinctive as the twelve bar blues.

In support of the soloist, J.C. found two violin sections and a bass line sufficient. My favorite spot is near the end of track 42 where the group leads into the recapitulation. This is the moment where the three orchestral parts and soloist act the most independently of each other. For a few bars only, texture, more than tunes or harmony, are the listener's sustenance. 
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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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