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Keyboard arrangements of orchestral music were a popular 18th-century phenomenon. J. S. Bach contributed to the genre, which undoubtedly encouraged his son to follow suit; C. P. E.’s eight so-called Berlin symphonies date from his years at the court of Frederick the Great. They began life as works for strings alone, with further orchestral colour added when Bach had more musicians at his disposal, and following their transcription to keyboard became more popular than the originals.

Italian harpsichordist Andre Chezzi has selected four symphonies which, together with some stylish artistic liberties, make worthy solo harpsichord pieces. Playing a fine-toned Alberto Colzani copy (in 2000) of the Goermans Taskin from the Russell Collection, Edinburgh, Chezzi opens his disc with the only symphony transcribed by Bach himself (Wq122 No. 1). The inventive and highly imaginative C. P. E. style is immediately recognisable, with exuberant Allegro assai ideas contrasting with the more cantabile Andante middle movement, and the use of two manuals reflecting original dynamic nuances.

Chezzi’s performances throughout are characterised by a lively if at times rather relentless approach, perhaps needing more rhythmic finesse and poise to truly draw the listener into the music.

Katharine May Read the full review on Agora Classica


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