a doubt Wilhelm Friedemann was the favourite son of Johann Sebastian
Bach. He not only paid much attention to his eldest son's musical
education, he also made an effort to make sure Friedemann obtained
a good position as musician. The first post was that of organist
of the Sophienkirche in Dresden, which was not very prestigious.
But, as Peter Wollny writes in the booklet, his workload was
very limited, and that gave him plenty of opportunity to work
on his development as a composer.
is rather difficult to position Wilhelm Friedemann in the musical
landscape of his time. In some of his works he follows in his
father's footsteps: his sacred cantatas are very much alike
Johann Sebastian's. He also was a master of polyphony, which
was most certainly the result of his father's education. But
he also wrote in the more fashionable musical languages of his
time: Empfindsamkeit, Sturm und Drang and the galant style.
is mostly explained by Wilhelm Friedemann's character, which
is described as difficult and restless. Some think he found
it very hard to develop a musical language of his own. But it
can also be interpreted in a different way: composing in several
musical languages is exactly what his personal style was. It
was characterised by unpredictability and individualism, which
seems to reflect his personality pretty well.
output in chamber music is very limited. In 1992 the Ricercar
Consort devoted two discs to his complete chamber music, the
largest part of which consisting of pieces for two melody instruments.
It also contained the four trio sonatas which appear on this
disc. But Camerata Köln has recorded two pieces which have been
found in the archive of the Berlin Singakademie, which was rediscovered
in Kiev in 1999. As their existence wasn't known they don't
appear in the Falck catalogue.
unpredictability and individualism of Wilhelm Friedemann's compositional
style are reflected in these chamber music works. The two trio
sonatas F 47 and 48 were probably written at about the same
time, but are different in the order of the movements. The Sonata
in D (F 48) follows the traditional pattern: fast – slow – fast,
whereas the Sonata in D (F 47) starts with an andante, which
is followed by two fast movements – reflecting the new fashion.
these trios can be described as written in the galant style
they both contain many elements of polyphony. Both
include a movement in which the theme of the first section is
inverted note by note in its second section. The two solo sonatas
follow the old order of movements, but despite some imitation
between the flute and the basso continuo there is little polyphony.
The unfinished Trio in a minor (F 49), on the other hand – the
second movement, a siciliano, breaks off after a couple of bars
-, is a three-part fugue, and could easily been written by Johann
Trio for two violins and bc in B flat seems to be the latest
of all works on this disc, and probably dates from around 1745.
It starts with a largo which is full of expression because of
its thematic material and its harmonies. It is followed by two
fast movements with swinging rhythms.
Friedemann may have been a difficult character and never made
the career one would expect considering his great talent, his
very individual style makes him quite unique in the German musical
landscape. His music is almost always interesting and enthralling,
and the chamber works on this disc are no exception. Camerata
Köln plays them exceptionally well, and the many twists and
turns of Wilhelm Friedemann's music come out very clearly. The
slow movements are played expressively and the faster movements
are realised in a strongly gestural manner.
a shame the booklet contains some errors. The tracklist gives
the second and third items (F 48 and 50) in the wrong order,
and I have corrected this error in the tracklist at the head
of this review. In the programme notes by Peter Wollny the numbers
of the sonatas F 47 and 48 are swapped in the description of
the respective pieces. This recording deserved a more careful