CPE BACH Flute Concerti
It’s perhaps rather unorthodox to begin a review by dealing with the accompanying sleeve notes, but still, here I go, because there couldn’t be a clearer indication and partner to the delights to come on this disc than the above-the-bar introduction you’ll find within this booklet’s pages.
The wild, unorthodox music composed by CPE Bach while harpsichordist to King Frederick the Great is often attributed to career frustration, far down as he was within the court’s musical pecking order. Pahud, however, suggests that Bach’s lowly position actually put him at an advantage, allowing him the freedom to be inspired by his surroundings without having to toe the musical line. So his music doesn’t represent internal turmoil but was instead inspired by the political, military and artistic climate of his age. ‘It was probably clear to Carl Philipp Emanuel that the Prussia of his masters was coming to an end,’ suggests Pahud, ‘that the yearning for a new, republican Germany was already on the horizon.’
Don’t expect to be soothed by this disc, therefore, because Pahud’s performances bear out all of the above: urgent, direct, effortlessly virtuoso to the nth degree, always lyrical and awash with conviction, these are readings that will keep you on your toes. The D minor’s third movement in particular is electrifying stuff. It’s also worth parking any sniffiness over modern flutes, for Pahud can produce as dulcet a tone as anybody on a period instrument could. Add the crack team of Pinnock and the Kammerakademie Potsdam (and Pahud’s chamber moments with them are every bit as ear-grabbing as the flashy stuff), and what you have here is a disc of properly exciting CPE Bach.