New Releases Highlight Family Affairs with Bach and Mozart

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As C.P.E. Bach's 300th birth anniversary approaches this Saturday, March 8, our featured releases focus on his music and that of his famous dad, J.S. Bach. Plus, we sample some Mozart arrangements, played by the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo.

Janine Jansen: Bach Concertos
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Now a over decade into her international career, Janine Jansen is at a point where she could call on almost any major orchestra to accompany her in Bach’s major works for violin. But she chose instead to collaborate with a handpicked ensemble that includes family and friends. Her father, the harpsichordist Jan Jansen, joins her for some lively dialogue in two sonatas. But perhaps the strongest selection is a reconstruction of Bach's lost Concerto for Violin and Oboe featuring the fantastic oboist Ramón Ortega Quero. Jansen’s cellist brother, Maarten Jansen, is also among the dozen players who join her the Concertos in E major and A minor. While period-instrument devotees may want to look elsewhere, there’s an intimacy to the performances here combined with Jansen’s buoyant and expressive tone.


C.P.E. Bach: Magnificat
Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin
RIAS Chamber Choir

Hans-Christoph Rademann, conductor
Harmonia Mundi

Available at

C.P.E. Bach was likely the most gifted and influential of J.S. Bach's various composer sons, and some would even argue that he was even more revolutionary than his father. Marking the 300th anniversary of his birth this year, Berlin’s Early Music Academy has released a collection of three works that were said to be drawn from a concert that the composer himself oversaw in Hamburg in 1786, just two years before his death. It was intended as a kind of summation of his career, although the headlining work – the mid-career Magnificant – doesn’t quite hint at the boldness and iconoclasm of his achievements. Instead, try the motet "Heilig ist Gott" and the Symphony in D, Wq. 183/1 for a taste of his bold harmonies and piquant melodies.


An Amadeus Affair
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
Steinway & Sons
Available at

The piano duo comprised of Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe have enlivened the sometimes dowdy world of piano duos with their off-the-wall music videos and an attention-getting Tumblr blog. The charismatic pianists, who began playing together at Juilliard in 2002, have released their second album for the Steinway label, this one featuring various four-hand renderings of Mozart by composer-arrangers over the decades. Fairly straightforward are Busoni’s Duettino concertante, an adaptation of the last movement of the Piano Concerto in F major, K. 459, and Liszt’s Reminiscences of Don Juan, based on themes from Don Giovanni. Anderson and Roe offer their own versions of several pieces and top it off with Ragtime alla Turca based on the famous rondo from the Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331. If the booklet notes are a tad overstated the duo’s performances have the right combination of flair and good taste throughout.