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Reviews: Johann Christian Bach: Six Symphonies, Op. 3

The MHS Review 404, VOL. 12, NO.8• 1988

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John W. Barker, American Record Guide (May/June 1988)


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Symphonies Nos.: 1 in D Major; 2 in C Major; 3 in E-flat Major; 4 in B-flat Major; 5 in F Major; 6 in G Major. Simon Preston, Harpsichord; Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Neville Marriner, Conductor.

This is a reissue of Philips 6500 115 (itself reissued as 9502 001 ). The six pieces date from 1765. They are all three-movement works in the format and style of the Italian operatic sinfonia, and they are mostly scored for pairs of oboes and horns with strings. While none stands out as particularly striking music, all demonstrate the way in which J.C. Bach's music served as inspiration and model to the young Mozart.

This recording is the only complete one ever made of these symphonies as a set. Marriner brings a fullness of sound to these works, as well as his predictable smoothness. This is what one would now call "Mozartean" playing. Nevertheless, a harpsichord continuo is very sensibly included, and realized with particular imagination by Simon Preston, adding an important dimension to the whole project.

A fine bargain, worth grabbing while available.

John W. Barker,

American Record Guide (May(June 1988)

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