CPE Bach: Works for Harpsichord & Violin
The 300th anniversary of the birth of JS Bach’s second son generates an opportunity to reappraise him. He was highly admired in his day, especially for his ‘expressive’ musical language, developing ‘feeling’, or ‘sensibility’, in the Empfindsamkeit style, and fuelling the fire of Sturm und Drang. Then he was largely forgotten during the 19th century, though Brahms recognised his genius and edited, with remarkable historical awareness, the continuo parts of two sonatas recorded here.
The programme provides a neat overview of Bach’s life-long development. His father’s influence is clear in an early sonata from 1731, especially in its meditative slow movement over an ostinato repeating bass. Two sonatas from the 1760s are more innovative, though they are subjected to some indulgent tempo-variations (and robbed of Bach’s intended repeats). In the first, the harpsichord is too distantly recorded to allow figurations between right-hand and violin to interconnect effectively. For the second, Halubek plays a tangent piano and the bolder sound is better balanced.
One highlight is the free fantasia, originally conceived for solo keyboard and largely without barlines, to which Bach later added the violin accompaniment. All in all, revealing and enjoyable.