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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 1 (Danny Driver)


Composer: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
  • (01) Sonata in G minor, Wq. 65/17
  • (04) Sonata in A major, Wq. 48/6
  • (07) Sonata in B flat major, Wq. 48/2
  • (10) Sonata in C minor, Wq. 48/4
  • (13) Sonata in E flat major, Wq. 52/1

Danny Driver, piano
Date: 2009
Label: Hyperion



The strange sonatas of Bach’s second son in a stunning recital

CPE Bach (second son of JSB) offers so much more than eccentricity and in this recital of five sonatas Danny Driver, a recent addition to Hyperion’s bejewelled roster of pianists, makes his superlative case for music that is as inventive as it is unsettling. Playing with imperturbable authority, he captures all of the mercurial fits and starts of the G minor Sonata (H47) – almost as if Bach were unable to decide on his direction. And here, in particular, you sense Haydn’s delight rather than censure in such a startling and adventurous journey. The strange, gawky nature of the third movement even anticipates Schumann’s wilder dreams and, dare I say it, is like a prophecy of Marc-André Hamelin’s trickery in his wicked take on Scarlatti (also on Hyperion, 12/01). Again, the beguiling solace of the central Adagio is enlivened with sufficient forward-looking dissonance to take it somehow out of time and place.

In the Adagio of the A major Sonata (H29) gaiety quickly collapses into a Feste-like melancholy, though even Shakespeare’s clown hardly sings more disquietingly of life’s difficulties. The finale from the same Sonata has a mischievous feline delicacy; and if the last three sonatas on this recital are more conventional, they are still subject to all of Bach’s mood-swings. It would be impossible to over-estimate Driver’s impeccable technique and musicianship, and also a warmth missing from Pletnev’s earlier and razor-sharp recital (DG, 2/02). Moving from York Bowen to CPE Bach (and with Balakirev on the horizon), he clearly believes that variety is the spice of life. This is surely one of the finest of all recent keyboard issues and Hyperion’s sound and presentation are ideal.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (8 March 1714 – 14 December 1788) was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child of Johann Sebastian Bach. C. P. E. Bach was an influential composer working at a time of transition between his father's Baroque style and the Classical style that followed it. Among his most popular and frequently recorded works are his symphonies, as well as many keyboard concertos and sonatas. Bach was also an influential pedagogue, writing the ever influential “Essay on the true art of playing keyboard instruments ” which would be studied by Haydn and Beethoven, among others.


Danny Driver (born 1977 in London) is a British classical pianist. He trained with Alexander Kelly and Piers Lane at Cambridge University, with Irina Zaritskaya at the Royal College of Music, and completed his studies privately with Maria Curcio. Driver has a special interest in unusual or neglected works, alongside the mainstream repertoire. His recordings for Hyperion Records, which earned him three Gramophone Award nominations, include music by Robert Schumann, C. P. E. Bach, G. F. Handel, Mily Balakirev, as well as neglected British composers such as Benjamin Dale, York Bowen and Erik Chisholm.


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  2. Excellent recording, what joy, what clarity! Thanks