> CPE BACH Pieces de caractere [KM]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Pièces de caractère

1. Rondo II en do mineur, Wq 69, 1786
2. La Borchward (Polonoise) en sol majeur, Wq 117/17, 1764
3. La Pott (Menuet) en do majeur, Wq 117/18, 1754
4. La Gleim (Rondeau) en Ia mineur, Wq 117/19, 1755
5. La Bergius en si bémol majeur, Wq 117/20, 1755
6. La Prinzette en fa majeur, Wq 117/21, 1755
7. L’Auguste (Polonoise) en Ca majeur, Wq 117/22, 1767
8. L’Herrmann en sol mineur, Wq 117/23, 1756
9. La Buchholtz en ré mineur, Wq 117/24, 1766
10. La Stahl en ré mineur, Wq 117/25, 1755
11. La Boebmer en rd majeur,, Wq 117/26, 1754
12. Fantasia II en do majeur, Wq 59, 1786
13. L’Aly Rupalich (la Bach) en do Inajeur, Wq 117/27, 1755
14. La Complaisante en si bémol majeur, Wq 117/28, 1756 ....
15. Las Langueurs tendres en fa mineur, Wq 117/30, 1756 ....
16. La Capricieuse en mi mineur, Wq 117/33, 1756
17. La Gabriel en do majeur, Wq 117/35,1755
18. L’Ernestine en ré majeur, Wq 117/38, 1767
19. La Caroline en la mineur, Wq 117/39, 1765
20. Rondo III en si bémol majeur, Wq 68, 1783
Marcia Hadjimarkos, pianoforte and clavichord
Rec: February 2001, Gemeentemuseum, den Haag, Netherlands.


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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the most illustrious of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons. His composing career was long and he was quite prolific, writing dozens of sonatas, concertos and other works. This recording contains a selection of twenty works of "character", showing the variety of music that this brilliant composer wrote, and features performances on two of CPE Bach’s favourite instruments, the pianoforte and the clavichord.

Marcia Hadjimarkos displays a rare ability to play several different instruments effectively. She plays with grace and subtlety when using the clavichord, such as in the delicate La Gleim, a delightful rondo. And she shows a great deal of energy in the more rapid pieces on pianoforte, such as the Fantasia II in C major, with its brilliant runs up and down the keyboard. She does not sound like a virtuoso - playing the notes quickly just to impress - but imbibes even these sections with a great deal of subtlety. The energy she expresses on the clavichord at times - as in La Boehmer, a piece full of drive, is exemplary. The sound of the clavichord here is also excellent; and this is indeed a difficult instrument to record this well.

The recordings on this disc are somewhat strange, however. The pianoforte has too much reverb; one can hear this from the very first notes on the disc. The hesitant melodies in the first Rondo allow the reverb to float on in between the notes, and it sounds artificial. Whether it is artificial or not is unclear, but it is a bit disturbing. The clavichord recordings take a different approach, one rarely used for such discs. Since the clavichord is a very soft instrument, most recordings featuring this instrument with other keyboard instruments generally make no change to the relative dynamic level of the clavichord. This means that, after you have adjusted the volume for one instrument, you usually have to change it for the other. The approach here is to present the clavichord at a higher volume than usual, saving you from the incessant increases and decreases in volume. This is certainly laudable, but at times the clavichord sounds as if it is miked too closely.

Nevertheless, what stands out most here is Marcia Hadjimarkos’s ability to interpret each piece according to its profoundest emotions. She covers a wide range of emotions, and is at home with all of them. Her selection of works is also exemplary, and shows a true understanding of the music of this fine composer who deserves much more recognition than he has received (though this tide is changing).

This fine recording shows the many types of keyboard music that CPE Bach wrote, and presents it on two instruments that truly give the music the tone it needs. Marcia Hadjimarkos is an excellent performer and her choice of works is very judicious.

Kirk McElhearn

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