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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach "for myself"

Ensemble Klangschmelze
Swantje Hoffmann, viola & violin; Leonard Schelb, flauto traverso; Ricardo Magnus, fortepiano


amb 96957
EAN 4011392969574

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788): Quartets for fortepiano, flute and viola Wq. 93 - 95
Duet for flute und violin Wq. 140
Fantasia for fortepiano in F sharp minor Wq. 67 ”C.P.E. Bachs Empfindungen”

It was not always easy in the 18th century for a composer to remain true to himself on compositional, aesthetic and formal grounds, while at the same time fulfilling the requirements of his position as a princely court musician. This can be seen in this comment by Bach: ”Because I have had to compose most of my works for specific individuals and for the public, I have always been more restrained in them than in the few pieces that I have written merely for myself” (The Autobiography, written for the German translation of Charles Burney’s The Present State of Music in Germany ... London, 1773—see: Carl Burney, Tagebuch seiner musikalischen Reisen Vol. 3, Hamburg, 1773).
This shows the tension that existed between one’s personal artistic aspirations on the one hand, and the necessity of earning one’s living on the other. The latter often meant that one had to take into account the taste of ”specific individuals”, including Frederick the Great, whom Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach served for thirty years as ”chamber harpsichordist”.
While an impressive number of C.P.E. Bach’s works became widely distributed, at first the Keyboard Quartets from 1788 remained only known to a handful of music enthusiasts and musicians. These included Sarah Levy, Johann Jakob Heinrich von Westphalia and the great Joseph Haydn, who owned the scores to Wq. 93 & 94. Not until 1952 were the works printed in ”modern” typography.

In addition to Bach’s three keyboard quartets, we chose for this album a piece that stands out as an extraordinary example of the free fantasia genre, entitled: ”Carl Philipp Emanuel Bachs Empfindungen”. If it were ever possible to gaze into a composer’s heart, this piece of extreme sensibility would be our point of entry. Many musicians would dream, with the help of a time machine, to have the opportunity to listen to someone of the calibre of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach playing one of his improvisations, and eavesdrop on his most intimate artistic thoughts. The Fantasia in F sharp minor is the perfect window through which to experience this kind of musical time travel.
>br> Above all, through their distinctiveness, their originality, their uncompromising and visionary features, the three Keyboard Quartets and the Fantasia in F sharp minor are works that show us the ”private” Bach. It is as if he had wanted to tell us: now I shall compose for myself, not for ”specific individuals”.