Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714 -1788)
Complete works for Keyboard & Violin
Sonata in C major, Wq. 73 (1731) [13:14]
Sonata in F major, Wq. 75 (1763) [16:12]
Sinfonia in D major, Wq. 74 (1754) [7:59]
Sonata in B minor, Wq. 76 (1763) [17:54]
Fantasia in F-sharp minor, Wq. 80 (1787) [14:05]
Sonata in B-flat major, Wq. 77 (1763) [16:26]
Sonata in D minor, Wq. 72 (1731) [8:05]
Arioso with Variations in A major, Wq. 79 [7:33]
Sonata in C minor, Wq. 78 (1763) [18:56]
Sonata in D major, Wq. 71 (1731) [11:53]
Duo Belder Kimura: Rie Kimura (baroque violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (harpsichord & fortepiano)
rec. 2016, St Hilda’s Church, Sherburn, United Kingdom
RESONUS RES10192 [69:32 + 62:51]
This recording provides the opportunity to hear excellent performances of all ten of C.P.E. Bach’s violin and keyboard works written over a span of fifty-six years, from 1731 to 1787. As Bach’s career encompassed the change from the baroque to the classical style, these works have considerable stylistic range, perhaps even greater than a casual acquaintance with this composer might suggest.
Unsurprisingly, the earliest pieces, composed when C.P.E. Bach was seventeen, reveal the most obvious debt to Johann Sebastian Bach. The opening Allegro di molto of Wq. 73 quickly brings to mind Bach the father, whose influence can be heard throughout the best of the early works, the Sonata in D major, Wq. 71.
As he gained experience, the younger Bach’s sonatas began to sound more like what we expect of him: that is. wildly contoured melodies with compelling, brilliantly-timed hesitations in the lines. The work becomes more emotional, but in an Enlightenment, rather than a Romantic, manner. The musicians strike poses to project affect, often through technically demanding writing.
The Fantasia in F-sharp minor, Wq. 80 sounds most like our anticipation of C.P.E. Bach’s music. This extended work, with the fortepiano taking the keyboard part, seems to be an experiment in progress, often exciting, but sometimes delaying too long to make something interesting happen. We are not accustomed to thinking of C.P.E. Bach as Mozart’s contemporary, yet this rich fantasy was composed in the year of Don Giovanni and seems like a proper companion to Mozart’s keyboard fantasias (K396, K397, K475).
Perhaps the most impressive music here is the group of four sonatas from 1763. The C minor Sonata, Wq. 78, opens with unease and yearning, Romantic in spirit if not in form. The Adagio contains a long and solemn rhetorical line for violin over keyboard arpeggios. The finale, a jig, remains serious, but moves right along, insistent, but not demonic. The B flat Sonata, Wq. 77 begins with an Allegro di molto that rushes forward like Johan Sebastian, until the momentum is interrupted by the son’s rhetorical hesitations. The Largo is a lamentation before another extrovert movement, a slightly awkward but endearing Presto.
The downside of a complete set is that it must include weaker pieces alongside the strong. There are not many of these, but the F major Sonata, Wq. 75 did not hold my attention.
These are confident, assertive performances. Kimura and Belder play with assurance and joy, although not with in-your-face virtuosity, so expect to be quietly pleased rather than dazzled. Kimura’s rich violin sound is a plus. The recording is clear, and the two instruments are well-balanced, although the violin is (perhaps inevitably) favored over the harpsichord’s treble line.