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From Baroque to Classical Style – From Trio Sonata to the Trio

Eva Amsler, flute; Karl-Heinz Schütz, flute; Jeff Keesecker, bassoon; Shalev Ad-El, harpsichord/organ


amb 96931
EAN 4011392969314

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1759): Triosonate d-minor for two Flutes und B.c., BWV 1036
Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782): Trio in c-major for two flutes and bassoon
Trio in g-major for two Flutes und B.c
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788): Trio e-major for two Flutes und B.c., Wq 162
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809): Trio 1 in C for two flutes and bassoon, Hob IV:1
Trio 2 in G for two flutes and bassoon, Hob IV:3
Triosatz in G for two flutes and bassoon, Hob IV:4
Andante in G for two flutes and bassoon, Hob IV:2

After a thorough exploration of W. F. Bach’s flute duos and the recording of his six duets, we decided to delve into the music of the classical period and indulge in its light and effervescent style. What a joy it was for us to play Haydn’s London Trios! Their virtuosic dialogues and lyrical melodies were an inspiration. At the same time, this experience led us to ask ourselves: how could such changes in musical style and form have taken place in such a short period of time (from Bach to Haydn)? This question inspired us to explore the process that led from the trio sonata to the classical trio, as seen through the compositional activities of a generation of musicians from the Bach family (J.S., C.P.E. and C.H. Bach).
What influence did the living conditions of the time have on the souls of these ‘sensitive’ musicians in their respective countries? To be sure, these were turbulent and urgent times in world politics. The turn of the century was a genuine time of transition. The French Revolution and the founding of the United States of America were two determining events that fundamentally reshaped the world at the end of the eighteenth century. Seen through the lens of the historian, these shifts are clear. Potsdam, London, Vienna, Paris and Washington: these were venues with radically different political and sociological make-ups. Seen from a general and more rational point of view, the diversity and the synchronicity of musical forms of expression, of styles and tastes seem obvious. Just as the being determines consciousness, music is always an expression of the time in which it was born.
At the end of the eighteenth century, the (transverse) flute was considered on the one hand as a fashionable instrument par excellence, versatile and virtuosic; on the other, in a political context, it was known as the preferred instrument of the Prussian king Frederick the Great. Which character stands out when one listens to the music on this recording? Is the flute the instrument of the ‘ancien régime’ that ‘speaks’ to us here, or does this musical language evoke instead the ideas of enlightenment, progress or even revolution?
The rigour and seriousness of the baroque style, followed by the erupting of emotions of the Sturm und Drang period, were then reorganised and moulded into a new form during the classical period. The transition from the Bach fugue to the Haydn minuet is more than a mere transformation from the sonata to the trio, or from a quartet to a trio of players. It is also clearly a tonal transformation towards a purer, lighter and brighter soundscape.
Several elements played a role in determining with which tonal ‘robes’ to dress this music for our recording. The instrumentation of the basso continuo or that of the bass part is most often open to interpretation. In addition to the flutes, it seemed important to us to rely on further ‘wind energy’ for this transitional period. Wind instruments in the accompaniment provide a slightly different colour to the overall sound. Just like the ‘Empfindsamer Stil’, this expands the listener’s experience with new ideas and emotions.
In addition to an historically informed approach to music making, the idea of ‘transition’ is also reflected, from a tonal perspective, in our choice of instruments: we play on flutes that are made of wood, but fitted with a modern Böhm system. These are combined with a bassoon, as well as with the large and small wind pipes of an organ (in addition to a harpsichord), in an attempt to virtually breathe life in, and resurrect, the music of this transitional period.