The first of the symphonies, in D major, has a dramatic opening which recalls that of Wq182/4, but now amplified into a carefully staged, mighty crescendo. It is hard not to think of Beethoven in this busy movement, not just in its powerful sonorities but also in the way Bach seems to be constantly on the lookout for ways to avoid the obvious—for instance the way in which the last note or chord of one episode might be replaced by first of the next. Even Beethoven, however, would have had difficulty in contemplating the bridge passage which leads to the central slow movement, arriving there in the surprise key of E flat major. This movement is brief, a snapshot of some warmly serene Gluckian operatic scene, and the symphony ends with a finale whose joyful progress is repeatedly interrupted by mysterious, winding questions from the strings.
from notes by Lindsay Kemp © 2015
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