Bach: Clavier-Büchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Ambroisie
ALBUM TITLE: Bach: Clavier-Báchlein
WORKS: Clavier-Büchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann
PERFORMER: Christophe Rousset (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: AMB 9977
The Clavier-Büchlein which Bach began compiling for his eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann early in 1720 offers us a charming insight to informal music-making in the Bach household. Over and above that, it tells us something about Bach the teacher as well as providing us with early versions of eleven preludes later to appear among those belonging to Book One of the ‘48’, the two-part Inventions and the three-part Sinfonias. Not all the music, though, is by Bach himself and there are pieces by Telemann, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, the Dresden court organist, Johann Christoph Richter and probably one or two others as well.

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Christophe Rousset plays with characteristic flair and with a seemingly youthful spontaneity which evokes something of the precocious talent and unbridled enthusiasm which Wilhelm Friedemann doubtless exhibited when playing for his father. Instruction and enjoyment, the dual purpose of this anthology, are evident in each and every one of the 69 pieces, which range from the relatively straightforward to the technically challenging. Rousset’s harpsichord is a fine, bright-sounding instrument by Ruckers, built in 1632, modified in 1745 but restored, I think in 1987 and not 1787 as printed on the cover of the disc.

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In summary, here is a recital whose content is often thought-provoking and unfailingly entertaining. Few lovers of Bach’s keyboard music, as well as rarities from admittedly less inspired pens, will be disappointed. Nicholas Anderson