CPE Bach: The Solo Keyboard Music 31

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WORKS: The Solo Keyboard Music 31: Sonatas from Collections 1 & 2 ‘Für Kenner und Liebhaber’ – in C, Wq 55/1 (H244); in F, Wq 55/2 (H130); in B minor, Wq 55/3 (H245); in F, Wq 55/5 (H243); in G, Wq 56/2 (H246); in F, Wq 56/4 (H269); No. 3 in A, Wq 56/6 (H270)
PERFORMER: Miklós Spányi (harpsichord)


Three-quarters of the way through his mammoth task of recording all CPE Bach’s keyboard music, Miklós Spányi has arrived at the sets for ‘Connoisseurs and Amateurs’. One sonata in this set requires performance on a particular instrument, rather than the choice including harpsichord or tangent piano he has used elsewhere; No. 2 in F includes vibrato, (‘Bebung’), created by the fingers varying pressure on the keys, only achievable on the clavichord with its direct contact between key and string.   

In fact, it’s barely audible in the treble of the opening Andante, though it’s clearer in the more robust bass. The performance is generally rather introverted, not stretching the clavichord’s expressive potential – at times, only my eye on the score alerted me to dynamic forte:piano contrasts, though his gentle fingering of the ornaments which litter some bars leaves them admirably even. Spányi is more positive in Sonata No. 5, where dynamic steps – piano, mezzo-piano, forte – characterise the drama of the opening. 

Spányi’s timing between movements enhances the surprise of some strange key relationships: G directly to F sharp minor, D to C minor add a sense of mystery, while at times Bach starts with harmonies distant from the home key creating a sense of journeying into the unknown.


George Pratt