CPE Bach

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COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
LABELS: Challenge Classics
ALBUM TITLE: CPE Bach: 6 Organ Sonatas
WORKS: Sonata in A minor, Wq 70/4; Sonata in F, Wq 70/3; Sonata in G minor, Wq 70/6; Sonata in D, Wq 70/5; Sonata in B flat, Wq 70/2; Sonata in D minor, Wq 69
PERFORMER: Ton Koopman (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CC72260

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Trust Ton Koopman to go the extra mile for the CPE Bach tercentenary. His recording of the six organ sonatas published after CPE’s death deploys an instrument with a pedigree second to none. Restored to its original disposition in 2007, the ‘Amalia’ organ in Berlin’s Kirche zur Frohen Botschaft was originally built in 1755 for the organ-loving sister of Frederick the Great – the same year in which Bach wrote four of the sonatas, destined, according to his friend Forkel, for the Princess. Indeed, CPE himself claimed that Wq 70 No. 2 was written for this instrument. It’s hard not to conclude, then, that most of the vivacious music on Koopman’s disc is played on the instrument for which it was written – though with considerably more panache than Princess Anna Amalia would have been able to muster. (Forkel waspishly remarked that she ‘could not play the pedals or anything difficult’!) Koopman follows CPE’s lead in exploring the organ’s colours with impish relish. He celebrates the music’s antiphonal playfulness and chicly coutured pathos, tackles the fast movements with punchy muscularity (the D major’s Allegro di molto is irresistibly bullish), and dispatches the A minor’s finale with dapper glee. Effortlessly idiomatic and precise, this playing is a stand-out tercentenary tribute.

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Paul Riley