Notes and Editorial Reviews
C. P. E. BACH
Concertos for 2 Keyboards: in E?,
Sonatina in D for 2 Keyboards
Cristiano Holtz (hpd);
Tamás Szekendy (fp); Péter Sz?ts, cond; Concerto Armonico Budapest
BIS 1967 (59:48)
This, the 20th and last entry in BIS’s groundbreaking series of the complete keyboard concertos of C. P. E. Bach, presents all three of his two-keyboard works. Despite the close numbering of the two major concertos, they were written nearly a half-century apart, Wq 46 coming from his early years in Berlin and Wq 47 composed in the late 1780s for the unusual combination of harpsichord and fortepiano. This is a piece which, in its strong, forward-looking orchestration and the way the orchestra “leads” the soloists, reminds one of early Beethoven, and it is splendidly conducted here by Peter Sz?ts, who has been the musical director of this series from its inception. To modern ears, however, the klinky sound of the fortepiano sounds much odder against this strong backdrop than even the harpsichord; hence I wish that Szekendy had used a bit richer-sounding instrument, but one cannot fault either the phrasing or the musicality of the two soloists.
Even considering the early date of the two-harpsichord concerto, there are numerous interesting harmonic changes that were far from normal for 1740, and both the Concerto Armonico and the soloists seem to be having fun with its quirky, not-quite-normal structure. The last movement of this concerto explodes with horns and strings in a manner similar to the music of Telemann or even of Handel’s
The unusual Sonatina, scored for harpsichord and orchestra, also dates from the last period of Bach’s life. It has a most forward-looking sound and structure, the orchestra shifting gears from gentle accompaniment to booming drama and excitement, the solo harpsichord part almost sounding in places like an obbligato to the orchestra. Bach here uses three trumpets, oboes, and timpani in addition to the usual strings, horns, and flutes, which gives this music its modern-sounding character. Even more surprising is the ending, so abrupt that the mastering engineer seems to have been taken by surprise, too—he leaves in almost a half-minute of silence after the final note!
Readers will know my love for Spányi’s series of recordings overall. Now that his series is complete with this disc, you can mentally add it to the Classical Hall of Fame as well.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
With this twentieth volume, Miklós Spányi’s imposing series of the complete keyboard concertos of CPE Bach draws to a close. The two concertos, Wq. 46 for two harpsichords, and Wq. 47 for harpsichord and piano, are two of Bach’s finest orchestral works in any form. The latter, in particular, composed for the wealthy Jewish arts patroness and Bach aficionado Sara Levy of Berlin, is an amazing piece whose delight in sonority and captivating writing for the two soloists would not see its like again until the 20th century (sound clip). You wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the composer was Poulenc, or another of Les Six in full neoclassical mode. The Sonatina in D major is also the grandest in that series of a dozen or so pieces. Gloriously scored for a full orchestra with trumpets and timpani, the piece contains eight short movements arranged in a sort of arch-form, lasting a scant quarter hour.
– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in F major, Wq 46/H 408 by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
Miklós Spányi (Harpsichord),
Cristiana Holtz (Harpsichord)
Written: 1740; Berlin, Germany
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