Bruno Procopio Plays Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Württemberg Sonatas Wq 49

Harpsichordist Bruno Procopio plays CPE Bach's Württemberg Sonatas.

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COMPOSERS: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
LABELS: Paraty
ALBUM TITLE: Bruno Procopio: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
WORKS: Württemberg Sonatas
PERFORMER: Bruno Procopio
CATALOGUE NO: 515501

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Carl Philip Emanuel’s Württemberg Sonatas – published not long after his father’s Goldberg Variations and ahead of the Art of Fugue and Musical Offering – throb with the testosterone of a young composer plunging enthusiastically into all manner of arresting new styles. But as the Fifth Sonata’s Adagio reminds us, he was also his father’s son. Bruno Procopio’s new recording is too late for 2014’s tercentenary celebrations, but it holds up well alongside Mahan Esfahani’s magnificent set that got CPE Bach 300 off to such an exhilarating start. Both deploy harpsichords rather than the clavichord favoured by Miklós Spányi, and Procopio’s is noticeably the brighter.

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‘A musician can’t move others without being moved himself,’ CPE wrote in his famous keyboard treatise, and Procopio is manifestly moved. He inhabits the chameleon fluidity of the A flat Sonata’s first movement, and displays captivating vigour in its Finale. The Finale of the A minor Sonata has fire in its belly, too, with arpeggiated flourishes that streak across the landscape like forked lightening. On balance, Esfahani has the expressive upper-hand in slow moments, and is peerless in making CPE’s trademark pregnant pauses resonate; but Procopio brings an affecting tenderness to the B flat Sonata’s Andante. Esfahani, nonetheless, has the edge and compounds his interpretative advantage with a logistical one by confining the sonatas to a single disc, unlike Procopio who takes up two. Paul Riley