COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
WORKS: Organ Sonatas, Wq 70
PERFORMER: Marie-Claire Alain (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-14777-2
Since Wotquenne compiled his catalogue of CPE Bach’s music, it has become customary to group the six Sonatas recorded here as one set. It is, however, misleading to assume (as does this recording) that all six originate from the same commission. It is clear that four (Nos 3-6) stem from a request by Frederick the Great’s sister, Anna Amalia, c1755, to write pieces for her newly commissioned organ which were to be technically accessible and playable without pedal; the first two, on the other hand, appear to be slightly later works and texturally more suggestive of the harpsichord or clavichord.
Alain has the opportunity here to use the same organ that the Princess played. Now rebuilt in the ‘Zur frohen Botschaft’ Church, Berlin-Karlshorst, its refined timbres are used well by the player, but her rather hurried approach (in many of the quicker movements) and misjudgement of the important rests in this often erratic music, tend to undermine both the excitement and sensibility that are always the hallmarks of Bach’s style. Andrew McCrea