WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

The Secret Bach - Works For Clavichord / Christopher Hogwood


Release Date: 04/06/2004 
Label:  Metronome   Catalog #: 1056   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

This title is currently unavailable.



Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an interesting entry from a most distinguished keyboard artist, period-ensemble conductor, and scholar of Baroque musical practices. The “Secret” in the title of the disc, “The Secret Bach,” refers not to heretofore lost or unknown works of J. S. Bach, but to what is said to be a recording project to advance two objectives: the first, to promote keyboard repertoire by familiar composers that has either been overlooked, or which exists in unfamiliar versions; the second, to further the theory that much of this music was conceived for personal, private, “audience-free” consumption on the more intimate clavichord, as opposed to the larger, more public harpsichord, and later of course, the piano. Hogwood quotes J. N. Forkel to lend Read more support to the argument that Bach himself preferred the clavichord for his own private entertainment, as well as for its subtlety, refinement, and flexibility in gradations of tone. If Mr. Hogwood wishes to play Bach, or anyone else for that matter, on the clavichord, he is perfectly free to do so, and more power to him. With Bach freely played today on accordions and harmonicas, one hardly needs justification or permission to play an instrument that is clearly appropriate to the period and that the composer himself looked upon with favor. The more relevant question is, do I want to listen to it? And, for the most part, I would answer in the affirmative. Overall, this is a very enjoyable program of keyboard pieces by Bach, some familiar, but in different versions than we are used to hearing them, others, perhaps not quite so familiar.

The Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue belongs of course to the former category, being quite probably the composer’s best-known solo (non organ) keyboard piece. There is, however, no surviving autograph, and multiple versions of it, some even post-dating Bach, exist. A 1757 manuscript copy, now lost, was signed by a J. L. A. Rust, and this is the version Hogwood plays here. Even the casual listener familiar with the piece is likely to notice a number of “deviations” from the standard-practice version, particularly in the opening passages where the arpeggiated figurations sound rather different, both in pattern and in harmonic progression, from what we have come to expect. I can’t say that I prefer the alterations, or that they represent an improvement, but they are interesting.

The Adagio in G Major and the Fugue in G Minor will be recognized as movements from two of Bach’s Sonatas for Unaccompanied Violin, the C-Major, BWV 1005, and the G-Minor, BWV 1001 (not 1000 as is erroneously printed in the booklet), respectively. The former may or may not be an arrangement by Bach’s own hand. The latter is; in fact, he arranged it twice, once for organ, and again for lute. It is the lute version that Hogwood uses as the basis for his keyboard transcription.

The three pieces from the Clavier-Büchlein für W. F. Bach require no comment; they are straightforward excerpts taken from the volume of exercises and practice pieces Bach began putting together for his nine-year-old son in 1720. The choral partita on “O Gott, du frommer Gott,” is believed to be from a very early period of Bach’s life, reflecting as it does the variations style of Georg Böhm. The Partita in A Minor is the major offering on the disc. It is a transcription, transposed downward by a fourth, of the Unaccompanied Violin Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004, with its famous concluding Chaconne. It is not, however, a product of Bach’s hand; rather, it is the work of Lars Ulrik Mortensen, who has based his speculations on other transcriptions that Bach did in fact make of a number of his own works.

Three different clavichords are used in the program. As listed in the order given in the above headnote, items 1, 2, 3, and 8 are played on a Johann Albrecht Hass, who flourished circa 1740–1768; items 4, 5, and 6 are played on a Johann Jacob Bodechtel, circa 1790; item 7 is played on a modern 1979 copy after an instrument by Georg Friedrich Schmal (1748–1827).

Whether you warm to this CD or not will ultimately come down, I think, to whether you do or do not care to hear these works played on a clavichord. It’s a softer, more intimate sound than the harpsichord, one which in some ways is perhaps more expressive. Yet I can’t seem to get too excited over arguments about authenticity—and personally I think it’s a bit disingenuous to make them—when Mr. Hogwood is obviously not troubled by playing a transcription by a fine modern artist (Lars Ulrik Mortensen) who has been recording Bach for BIS on the harpsichord. As I said earlier, this is a very enjoyable recital of pieces, mostly by Bach, that are not “secret,” but that may indeed reveal new facets as a result of being heard in a different light.

Jerry Dubins, FANFARE
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Adagio in G major, BWV 968 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
2.
Allemande for Keyboard in G minor, BWV 836 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720-1722; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903a by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
4.
Minuet in G major, BWV 841 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Leipzig, Germany 
5.
Fugue for Lute in G minor, BWV 1000 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa ?1725; Leipzig, Germany 
6.
Partite sopra "O Gott, du frommer Gott", BWV 767 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1700; Lüneburg, Germany 
7.
Minuet in G major, BWV 843 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Leipzig, Germany 
8.
Partita for Violin solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Christopher Hogwood (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Notes: Arranged: Mortensen 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In