CPE Bach’s Sonatas for strings performed by Rie Kimura and Pieter-Jan Belder

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COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
LABELS: Resonus
ALBUM TITLE: CPE Bach
WORKS: Violin Sonatas in D, Wq71 & D minor, Wq72; Sonata for harpsichord obbligato and flute, Wq73; Sinfonia in D, Wq74; Sonata in B minor, Wq76; Sonata in B flat; Arioso con variazioni, Wq79; Sonata in C minor; Trio Sonata for flute, violin and continuo, Wq151
PERFORMER: Rie Kimura (violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (harpsichord, fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: RES10192

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This pair of discs embraces the complete output for keyboard and violin by CPE Bach – infinitely varied works offering a snapshot of his entire career. Graceful melodies, breezy textures and dancing rhythms characterise the early sonatas, Wq 71-73: originating from his student years in Leipzig, they were revised in 1746 to reflect the courtly, style galant favoured by Bach’s music-loving patron, Frederick the Great. The later works, by contrast, plunge the listener into a proto-Romantic sound-world: impetuous and turbulent, with their nervous arpeggios, unsettling dynamic shifts, dissonances and chromaticisms.

Despite the frequent dialogue between the two players, the keyboard gets top billing and tends to steal the spotlight thanks both to Bach’s brilliant and idiomatic writing (he was, after all, court harpsichordist) and to Pieter-Jan Belder’s sparkling accounts. Belder plays a fine copy of a 1730 Blanchet harpsichord for the sonatas, while his choice for the more forward-looking, Sturm und Drang inspired Fantasia and Arioso is a warm-toned copy of a 1795 Walter fortepiano. On both instruments, he etches Bach’s lines with delicate precision; rhythms are buoyant, phrases articulate. Violinist Rie Kimura’s playing is supple and stylish, though the sound (slightly favoured in the recorded balance) is a little edgy in the upper reaches.  Her felicitous manner is best suited to the more galant works, where the duo converse and banter with terrific brio. Particularly lovely is their lyrical and wistful rendition of the D major Sonata – a work resonant with echoes of papa Bach – but, throughout, their response to the younger Bach’s rhetoric is keenly felt. 

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Kate Bolton-Porciatti