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