The Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra is among the more highly regarded German chamber ensembles. As the name suggests, they play many works by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, as well as contemporaries of this J.S. Bach offspring. But over the years the ensemble expanded into Classical, Romantic, and finally twentieth century repertory, taking on works by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich, and a score of other composers from various periods. The ensemble consists of about 25 musicians, most of whom are drawn from the more prominent orchestras in Berlin. The CPEBCO has been led for more than a quarter century by Dresden-born conductor Hartmut Haenchen. It performs five concerts per year, which are split between two locations -- the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Great Hall of the Berlin Concert House. The CPEBCO also occasionally tours Germany, other parts of Europe, and the Far East. Unlike many German and European orchestras, it receives no government funding and is completely self-sustaining. The CPEBCO has made more than 50 recordings in its four-decades-plus existence, with many of them available on Sony, Philips, Decca, Berlin Classics, Laser Light, and EuroArts.
The Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra was formed in 1969 and remained a rather obscure ensemble for more than a decade. In 1982 Hartmut Haenchen was appointed its artistic director, and he then ushered in radical changes: previously the ensemble was mainly devoted to modern music, but Haenchen geared its focus toward early- and pre-Classical music.
More modern repertory was phased in over the years and the ensemble soon began making regular appearances on radio and television. It also managed to attract some of the finest instrumentalists and singers, from iconic pianist Sviatoslav Richter and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter to famed baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and tenor Peter Schreier.
Though Haenchen has served in several other prestigious posts over the years, including music director of the Amsterdam-based Netherlands Opera and Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, he has remained CPEBCO's artistic director. From around 1985 he launched a series of acclaimed recordings (now available on Berlin Classics) of the C.P.E. Bach sinfonias and other works.
Among the CPEBCO's later recordings is the 2007 EuroArts DVD of Mozart's Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter). The recording not only features a highly praised account of the Mozart masterwork, but an incisive analysis of it by Haenchen.