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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Carl Philip Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Solo Keyboard Music Volume 13
Sinfonia in G, Wq 122/1, H 45 (1745) [9.45]
Sonata in d, Wq 65/24, H 60 (1749) [6.42]
Allegretto con Variazioni, Wq118/5 H65 (1750) [11.39]
Sinfonia in F, Wq 122/2,  H,104 (1755) [14.22]
Fantasia and Fugue in c, Wq 119/7, H75.5 (1755) [7.08]
Sonata in e, Wq 65/29, H 83 (1755) [14.55]
Miklós Spányi, fortepiano by Michael Walker 1999, after Silbermann 1749.
Recorded in a private residence in Ahlden, Germany, November 2001.
Notes in English, Deutsch, and Français.
BIS CD-1328 [66.16]



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In my designating as a record of the year one of the volumes of Miklós Spányi’s recordings of the complete keyboard concertos of C.P.E. Bach, I predicted that on the basis of Spányi’s work we would see a dramatic upward re-evaluation of C.P.E. Bach’s reputation in years to come.  Here the series of complete solo keyboard music has gone to volume 13 without my having heard any of it, but let me hasten to reinforce my comments.  I’ve heard plenty of C.P.E. Bach played by other eminent keyboard musicians, but no one — no one — has been able to find as much music here as does Spányi.  And if he can find it, that means it was there all along.

Of just what his magic consists I cannot begin to elucidate, but one feature of these performances deserves comment.  In C.P.E. Bach’s keyboard music there are lots of repeated notes and chords in the left hand.  Most performers render them as a galling pounding sound.  Spányi, correctly perceiving that on a fortepieno the way to sustain a tone is to re-strike it, that the purpose of these re-strikings was to produce a legato singing line, not a drumming sound, re-strikes the notes with smooth caressing grace and skill.  The result is a legato accompanying line.  Why didn’t anyone else think of that?

Whatever, the result is no less than astonishing.  This is wonderful music, beautifully played, and I recommend this disk to anyone who loves keyboard music, not just the keyboard music of this transitory period as the High Baroque was melting into the Classical style.

One unfortunate problem.  Apparently the owner of this excellent instrument declined to allow it to be moved to a recording studio, and the recording was made in his residence.  The result is a tubby, echo-y acoustic typical of a small live music room.  Perhaps there is an authenticity in this sound, but the instrument would sound better recorded more closely under controlled circumstances.  But the strength of the music and the performances easily overcomes this difficulty and after a moment’s regret you forget and follow along with Spányi on this journey of discovery.  Listen in this music to the pre-echoes of Mendelssohn and Schumann you’ve never heard there before!

I can hardly wait to hear the earlier volumes in this series.

Paul Shoemaker



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