The issue of the pianist Marc-André Hamelin’s hottest album is Bach — no, not that a person.
Hamelin — ever inquisitive in checking out the outer reaches of the repertoire, with modern releases of new music by Sigismond Thalberg, Samuil Feinberg and Erno Dohnanyi — has now turned to the remarkable selection of keyboard will work by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian’s second surviving son.
C.P.E. Bach was a prolific composer and an important pedagogue, a substantial affect on Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. (Hamelin’s new album is a welcome companion to the a few volumes of solo Haydn that he established down, with suitable panache, a 10 years and additional in the past on the Hyperion label.) But if he was a lot more widely appreciated than his father perfectly into the 19th century, that has certainly not been the situation additional a short while ago.
In component, that is mainly because C.P.E.’s category-defying scores challenge preconceptions of the history of audio as it has come to be written — coming off as stunningly, even unnervingly, experimental. When did the “Baroque” end, and the “Classical” get started? What constitutes “early music”? The get the job done of C.P.E. Bach invitations us to consider these thoughts anew, indicates the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, who has recorded some of this songs and wrote the booklet notes for Hamelin’s two-disc established.
Hamelin can take us from a juvenile march C.P.E. wrote prior to 1725 to two of the extended, improvisatory fantasies he composed just right before his loss of life, in 1788. Questioned in an job interview to choose a favorite site from the scores, Hamelin chose the “Abschied von meinem Silbermannischen Claviere, in einem Rondo” (“Farewell to My Silbermannischen Clavier, in a Rondo”), a haunting tribute to a favourite clavichord in 1781. In this article are edited excerpts from the discussion.
Even for adventurous pianists like by yourself, the music of C.P.E. Bach is not particularly widespread. How did you decide it up?
My wife, Cathy Fuller, is one particular of the hosts at WCRB radio in Boston, and again in both 2008 or 2009 she performed one reduce from Mikhail Pletnev’s Deutsche Grammophon recording of C.P.E. Bach. It was a minor sonata in E minor it’s a few movements, pretty compact, about seven or 8 minutes. The piece ends instantly, in the center of a phrase. Bach just decides to stop it on a tonic initial inversion, which was a complete shock to me. You just have to seem at Gesualdo to see how far some composers could go even very early in history, but this was really pretty a shock.
By coincidence, I experienced just inherited a assortment of scores which included 6 volumes of songs that C.P.E. published very late in everyday living, in the 1780s, for “connoisseurs and amateurs.” So I ran to the tunes, and, sure ample, that is just what C.P.E. was asking for — no diminuendo, no rallentando, practically nothing. Obviously I required to find out a lot more, so I started off reading from the six volumes, and then I purchased all the things I could locate. I grew to become really, really enthusiastic the notion to file some of these things was always in the back of my brain, but it took a though for me to get the wheels in motion.
When I started out speaking about this undertaking, with no recording day in intellect, I acquired a incredibly good e-mail from Paul Corneilson of the Packard Humanities Institute. He claimed, “We have an 18-volume established of the finish keyboard performs in urtext editions would you like one?” What experienced been a job involving just one CD became two, mainly because of the humiliation of riches I was confronted with.
Over every thing else, I wanted to underline the richness of Bach’s imagination. I would like to plead with pianists to glance him up it is never been less complicated.
So what distinguishes his tunes?
The element of angularity, and surprise, and frequent delight in the unforeseen was incredibly considerably a component of Haydn, and he confessed that he owed a terrific debt to C.P.E. Bach. There are some extremely daring modulations, and what I pointed out ahead of is not the only time he just decides to finish a piece. In the sluggish motion of the F slight sonata I recorded, the middle area retains modulating, keeps modulating, retains modulating — and then all of a sudden cuts off at a pretty tense second, incredibly international to the dwelling important. Then there is 3 very long beats of silence, and he just decides to go back again to the starting, with no obvious marriage concerning the two keys.
I’ve found editions which have “corrected” this to make it additional palatable, more standard. A single that I uncovered, actually, was by Hans von Bülow, and you would not believe that the butchery job he performed on C.P.E.’s music it’s unbelievable. For a while, there was not a lot more than that out there.
Bach was producing at a time of excellent technological adjust, as harpsichords and clavichords were supplying way to fortepianos, a shift that permitted composers to establish new indicates of expression. How would you react to individuals who could argue that this tunes really should hence only be carried out on the instruments of its time, somewhat than a concert grand?
I grew up with the modern piano, and it affords me all the pleasure, all the fulfillment, all the musical benefits I want. So, as much as I recognize at times taking part in an outdated instrument — and I have, not always in community — the new music survives being played on the modern-day piano. For me, that’s enough I don’t need to have just about anything else. There are so many attainable sonorities on the contemporary piano that, for me, that is completely satisfying.
Technological transform is in truth the matter of your most loved website page, the center webpage of a rondo that Bach wrote in 1781 as a farewell to his prolonged-serving clavichord.
It is an really impacting piece I recall for the duration of the recording session I ought to have been in a hurry to get to it, because it was the first piece that I set down.
In the actual middle of it there is a second: There’s a fermata, and then all of a sudden this E important chord. This E significant chord is not anything really outlandish, due to the fact you are coming out of B minimal. But if you go away the appropriate amount of silence in advance of it, and if you pay individual heed to the high quality of the assault of this chord, that’s just one of the most magical times that I’m aware of in all of new music.
I read through that C.P.E. evidently mentioned to the gentleman to whom he gave this Silbermann clavichord it’s unquestionably unattainable even to participate in the piece on a clavichord other than this one particular. (C.P.E. had experienced it for close to 35 decades, I consider, so it was a extremely unhappy farewell.) But luckily I paid no notice to that. It is attention-grabbing to know, and it reveals you the electricity of his convictions, but it is a denial of the options that are obtainable on anything like the modern-day piano, or any other instrument.
Funnily more than enough, the score repeatedly notates an ornament that simply just cannot be reached on a modern-day piano: a bebung, which is a form of vibrato. Do you just have to disregard that, and take that the piano will make amends in other means?
I just tried to compensate somewhere else. What carried me as a result of is the image of C.P.E. perhaps improvising this piece, and then later notating it, for the reason that it truly does sound like an improvisation — like participating in for himself.