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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Johann Christian BACH (1735 - 1782)
Sonata Op 15 #5 for two keyboards in G (1778) [12.08]
Sonata Op 15 #6 for two keyboards in C (1778) [13.33]
Sonata Op 18 #5 for two keyboards in A (1780) [12.36]
Sonata Op 18 #6 for two keyboards in F (1780) [11.28]
Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst BACH (1759 - 1845)

Sonata for Piano four hands in C [6.01]
Duet #1 for Piano four hands in D [9.49]
Duet #2 for Piano four hands in G [9.08]
[Aglika] Genova and [Liuben] Dimitrov piano duo
Recorded at Hans Rosbaud Studio, Baden-Baden, Germany, 11 September 2001
Notes in Deutsch, English and Français
CPO 999 848-2 [75.53]

Comparison recordings:
Rafael Puyana and Genoveva Galvez, harpsichords [ADD] Mercury 289 434 395-2
Rolf Junghans and Bradford Tracey, harpsichords (cassette) Nonesuch N5-1357


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One’s first thought would be that this would be a first recording of any of this music, but it turns out that on the contrary the Bach Op 15 #5 has been popular and frequently heard on harpsichords for some time now, since the original release of the Puyana/Galvez recording on Mercury LP, and now available on CD. This may be a first recording on pianos, although I think I recall one on MHS LP some years ago.

These works by Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach were long attributed to J.C. Bach but the correct authorship has recently been established, and this is definitely the first recording of this music under the correct authorship, and the detailed notes are quite interesting in this regard. W.F.E. Bach was the last male descendant of J.S. Bach and his failure to have male children brought the dynasty, for the continuity of which J.S. Bach had sacrificed so much and so many, to an end.

J. C. Bach is unique in having published two Opus 18s The other is a collection of Sinfonias or opera overtures and, as luck would have it, one of those is one of his most popular and frequently heard works, and, since there is no "JCBWV" type of catalogue in general use, confusion is unavoidable.

These are modern pianos, but there is no inappropriate use of instrumental colour, nor is there any awkward attempt to make them sound "authentic." This is straightforward playing in the style of Murray Perahia’s or Andras Schiff’s Bach-on-the-piano style. Although this release has little of the excitement and wonder of the Puyana recording of many years ago, it is nicely played and enjoyable. These artists love the music and enjoy what they are doing, and their joy is communicated effectively. The back and forth interplay between the two instruments requires good stereo separation and that is nicely done in this release. But I think most people will prefer the harpsichord performances because the rhythmic complexity is more clearly revealed.

Paul Shoemaker

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