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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - Works for Violin & Keyboard (Tamsin Waley-Cohen; James Baillieu)


Information

Composer: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

CD1:
  • (01) Violin Sonata in D major, Wq. 71
  • (05) Violin Sonata in D minor, Wq. 72
  • (08) Violin Sonata in C major, Wq. 73
  • (11) Violin Sonata in D major, Wq. 74
CD2:
  • (01) Violin Sonata in F major, Wq. 75
  • (04) Violin Sonata in B minor, Wq. 76
  • (07) Violin Sonata in B flat major, Wq. 77
CD3:
  • (01) Violin Sonata in C minor, Wq. 78
  • (04) Arioso con variazioni in A major, Wq. 79
  • (05) Fantasia in F sharp minor, Wq. 80

Tamsin Waley-Cohen, violin
James Baillieu, piano

Date: 2019
Label: Signum Classics
https://signumrecords.com/product/cpe-bach/SIGCD573/

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Review

Contrary to the suggestion of its title, Daniel Dennett’s book From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds hardly discusses Bach at all. But the composer’s name is not there just for alliteration or pun. Bach has become a symbol of genius, the apex of human endeavour; the very furthest from a unicellular organism that we can get. It is with this currency that the New York Times was able to run two articles earlier this year entitled ‘Saturdays in the Bronx with Bach’ and ‘Yo Yo Ma Wants Bach to Save the World’. Bach’s name has become a signifier for social miracle, purportedly possessing the power to mend political division and rebalance racial inequality.

But the Bach that these writers refer to is, of course, Johann Sebastian. His sons rarely get a look-in. This three-disc set from Tamsin Waley-Cohen and James Baillieu of the complete works for violin and keyboard by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach nudges us in the right direction. What we discover – immediately and sustained for 153 minutes and 12 seconds – is that CPE not only does justice to his father but also is a superb composer in his own right. We would do well to remember that for most of the 18th century, talk of ‘the great Bach’ referred to CPE and not JS.

Not much work has gone into organising the sonatas. They are presented in chronological order – or at least in order of their ‘Wq’ numbers, the catalogue system established by Alfred Wotquenne in 1905 (it has since fallen out of favour, to be superseded by the ‘H number’ system). As a result, the listening experience tracks the chapters of CPE’s life, a journey which moves from the galant to the strange, experimental fantasia genre via Sturm und Drang. And yet, by serendipity, each disc has a stunning ‘opener’, disclosing a sound world perfect unto itself. Baillieu’s touch in the Adagio ma non molto of the opening D major Sonata (Wq71 H502) is something remarkable. His lines are full of breath, intimate and expansive, shaped with a microscopic sensitivity. Trills glisten over Waley-Cohen, the perfect partner to transform this into bowed song. Waley-Cohen’s achievement of pure legato is wondrous (though an unnecessary ornament disrupts the otherwise impeccably sustained broadness and reciprocity of counterpoint) and her sound is tinged with golden frailty. And though this sound world speaks of something more like a serene Schwanengesang than it does of a work by a hormonal teenager – CPE was only 17 years old when he composed the first three sonatas – it thoroughly works. My knees go weak at how the pair navigate the interrupted cadence towards the end of the movement, a gesture which spins out into nostalgic arioso and an ending of exquisite vulnerability.

That’s the first movement of 27. We’re also treated to a sublime Largo in the Sonata in B flat (Wq77 H513): Waley-Cohen transforms melancholy into sumptuous heartbreak, a moment of F major where the earth stops spinning for an appoggiatura – a ‘but I love you’ – and then tries to resume life as it was, but knows in meandering melody that it simply can’t once those words have been spoken. The loveliness is unceasing. The Arioso theme of the Variations in A (Wq79 H535) is enough to unharden the most hardened of hearts – and these eight bars alone make the entire listening experience worth it. Baillieu’s rhythmic variation in the repeat is lined with thoughtfulness and honesty, the subtlest smell of inégale lingers over his unravelling quavers, while Waley-Cohen purrs beneath with con sordino velvet. Three discs of wonderful music-making, enough to make any father proud.

-- Mark Seow, 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.

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Born in London, Tamsin Waley-Cohen studied at the Royal College of Music; her teachers included Itzhak Rashkovsky, Ruggiero Ricci and András Keller. In 2016-2017 she was the UK recipient of the ECHO Rising Stars Awards. In the 2018-19 season she toured Japan and China, and gave her New York Debut recital at the Frick. Waley-Cohen has twice been associate artist with the Orchestra of the Swan and works with conductors such as Andrew Litton and Vasily Petrenko. As a chamber musician, her duo partners include James Baillieu and Huw Watkins, while she is also a founding member of the Albion string quartet.

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James Baillieu is one of the leading song and chamber music pianists of his generation. He has given solo and chamber recitals throughout the world, and collaborates with a wide range of singers and instrumentalists. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Ulster Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and Wiener Kammersymphonie. An innovative programmer, he has curated many songs and chamber music festivals for the Brighton Festival, Wigmore Hall, BBC Radio 3, Verbier Festival, Bath International Festival and Perth Concert Hall. Baillieu is a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music and gives masterclasses worldwide.

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2 comments:

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  2. Bachta ya, no? Jajajaja es broma, inclcuso me he descargado un par ... Gracias!

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