- Concerto for keyboard & string orchestra in E flat major, Op. 7/5, CW C59 (T.294/5)
- Concerto for harpsichord, strings & continuo No. 2 in E major, BWV 1053
- Concerto for harpsichord, strings & continuo in E major, H. 417, Wq. 14
- Concerto for harpsichord, strings & continuo No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052
Don't be deceived by the presence of historical-instrument specialist Roger Norrington as conductor on this Berlin Classics release: as the "piano concertos" title implies, the music here is played on a modern grand, with the modern-instrument Zurich Chamber Orchestra in support and not a harpsichord in sight. As such, the performances are above average among the various albums on offer pairing J.S. Bach's works with those of his sons, with light string textures and plenty of shape to the melodic lines. Sebastian Knauer's piano is better suited to the concertos by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and especially Johann Christian Bach heard here than to the works by the elder Bach, which either have to be made into modern-piano interpretations or require the piano to shut off part of its personality. The best find here is the "Keyboard Concerto in E flat major" of Johann Christian, the "London Bach," whose works Mozart heard arranged as a child. A performance of a major work like this one is enough to remind listeners of how much Mozart learned: his music sounds completely different from that of C.P.E. and a great deal like that of the young Mozart in its sunny, placid mood and its way of constructing highly lyrical moments from junctures of harmonic stasis. The beautiful C minor slow movement could pass for Mozart, and Knauer delivers a fine, controlled but not unemotional performance. The "Keyboard Concerto in E major, Wq 14," of C.P.E. Bach is one that has been heard on a number of recent recordings; its central slow movement has the jagged dramatic quality of some of C.P.E.'s solo piano music, but the outer movements are breezy and a bit Vivaldian. To hear the music of Bach's sons is a good way of getting a grip on how musical style changed in the middle of the 18th century, and for those who like the sound of a modern piano in music of the period this is a reasonable pick.