LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Frische Clavier Fruchte (maybe need to specify??)
PERFORMER: John Butt (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907097 DDD
Johann Kuhnau was a precursor and contemporary of JS Bach. Not only was he cantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig immediately before Bach, he was also a notable theorist and the composer who, in his Clavier-Übung of l692, first introduced Italian sonata form into German keyboard music. The seven sonatas of the Frische Clavier Fruchte followed in 1696 and proved the most popular of his works for keyboard.
The sonatas exemplify their subtitle, ‘of good Invention and Manner’. Kuhnau draws on many facets of late 17th-century practice in his attempts to create a German music as richly inventive as the more fashionable French and Italian styles. The Frische Clavier Fruchte incorporate fugues, arias, several dance movements plus a variety of dramatic and lyrical effects. The formal rigour of ‘good Manner’ is also observed, as Kuhnau achieves a delicate balance between the expressive and well-made.
Outstanding pieces include the third sonata, with two stately, mournful arias, and the sixth sonata, which begins and ends with a haunting ciacona. John Butt, who is also well-known as an organist, performs superbly and makes a persuasive advocate for this attractive, long-forgotten music. Graham Lock