Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
The Solo Keyboard Music - Vol. 24
Sonata in D major, Wq62/3 (H 22) [14:46]
Sonata in D minor, Wq62/4 (H 38) [17:12]
Sonata in E major, Wq62/5 (H 39) [18:59]
Sonata in B minor, Wq65/13 (H 32.5) [19:35]
Miklós Spányi (clavichord)
rec. February 2011, Keizersaal, Sint-Truiden, Belgium.
BIS CD-1764 [72:14]
As I’ve been following this series of C.P.E. Bach’s solo keyboard music over the years, I’ve constantly been amazed by the quality of his compositions, and the wide range of styles that he used. BIS and Spányi cover music composed over many decades, and this release happens to coincide with the time that Bach married Johanna Maria Dannemann in 1744. These works, written between 1740 and 1744, are from the time that Bach worked for Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, the future Frederick the Great. 

I find it interesting to compare C.P.E.’s music to that of later composers such as Haydn and Mozart. When you listen to Haydn’s works for keyboard, or even his symphonies, they are made up of a number of small melodic phrases that are developed and varied. With C.P.E. the music is like a discourse. For example, the Allegretto of Sonata in D minor, Wq62/4 progresses from an opening exposition through a series of developments that sound as though the music were telling a story. Bach’s music sounds extemporaneous, as though he were sitting at the keyboard - here a clavichord - just riffing on some tunes he thought up. His inventiveness and rhythm are unique, and all of his music bears a certain feeling of individuality.
Many of his keyboard sonatas contain long movements that, on this disc, are often 6 minutes or more; other keyboard sonatas have movements that are more than ten minutes. Contrast that with Johann Sebastian Bach, whose works generally have movements that are 5 minutes or less, with some exceptions. In these long movements, C.P.E. Bach is able to expand on his ideas and develop them, and he never seems hurried, nor do these extended movements sound like filler.
Take the first movement of Sonata in B minor, Wq65/13, at nearly 8 minutes long. Bach composed this, along with five other sonatas, while taking a cure at the spa of Teplitz. The mere idea of composing a half-dozen sonatas while taking a cure suggests that Bach was not much for lazing around. Its use of hemiola is somewhat different from his more “gallant” works, showing that he was interested not only in attractive melodies, but also in seeking out new forms and techniques.
As always, the recording quality is excellent. Spányi plays an attractive clavichord and the sound is balanced and detailed.
With yet another wonderful disc of C.P.E. Bach’s keyboard sonatas, Miklós Spányi continues his traversal of this long and rich series of works. If you know and like this music, you’ll probably want to get this latest release. If not, this is as good a place as any to discover this music.
Kirk McElhearn
Kirk writes about more than just music on his blog Kirkville.

Another attractive recording of C.P.E. Bach’s solo keyboard music on clavichord.