December 6, 2023

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Hear to Keyboard Audio by Bach (No, Not That One particular)

The topic of the pianist Marc-André Hamelin’s hottest album is Bach — no, not that just one.

Hamelin — ever inquisitive in checking out the outer reaches of the repertoire, with current releases of music by Sigismond Thalberg, Samuil Feinberg and Erno Dohnanyi — has now turned to the incredible array of keyboard performs by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian’s 2nd surviving son.

C.P.E. Bach was a prolific composer and an significant pedagogue, a substantial impact on Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. (Hamelin’s new album is a welcome companion to the 3 volumes of solo Haydn that he established down, with best panache, a decade and far more back on the Hyperion label.) But if he was additional broadly appreciated than his father very well into the 19th century, that has absolutely not been the case much more recently.

In portion, which is simply because C.P.E.’s group-defying scores challenge preconceptions of the history of audio as it has arrive to be written — coming off as stunningly, even unnervingly, experimental. When did the “Baroque” conclude, and the “Classical” start out? What constitutes “early music”? The get the job done of C.P.E. Bach invitations us to think about these thoughts anew, indicates the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, who has recorded some of this music and wrote the booklet notes for Hamelin’s two-disc set.

Hamelin will take us from a juvenile march C.P.E. wrote just before 1725 to two of the extended, improvisatory fantasies he composed just prior to his demise, in 1788. Questioned in an job interview to choose a preferred webpage 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 favorite clavichord in 1781. Listed here are edited excerpts from the dialogue.

Even for adventurous pianists like on your own, the new music of C.P.E. Bach is not accurately prevalent. How did you choose it up?

My wife, Cathy Fuller, is one of the hosts at WCRB radio in Boston, and back in either 2008 or 2009 she performed one cut from Mikhail Pletnev’s Deutsche Grammophon recording of C.P.E. Bach. It was a minimal sonata in E small it is a few movements, very compact, about 7 or eight minutes. The piece finishes all of a sudden, in the center of a phrase. Bach just decides to stop it on a tonic first inversion, which was a total shock to me. You just have to glimpse at Gesualdo to see how much some composers could go even extremely early in heritage, but this was genuinely very a shock.

By coincidence, I had just inherited a selection of scores which integrated six volumes of new music that C.P.E. revealed really late in daily life, in the 1780s, for “connoisseurs and amateurs.” So I ran to the audio, and, absolutely sure ample, that’s accurately what C.P.E. was asking for — no diminuendo, no rallentando, practically nothing. The natural way I required to obtain out far more, so I started studying from the 6 volumes, and then I purchased anything I could uncover. I turned incredibly, pretty enthusiastic the concept to record some of these things was normally in the again of my thoughts, but it took a even though for me to get the wheels in motion.

When I commenced talking about this challenge, with no recording date in intellect, I received a incredibly great email from Paul Corneilson of the Packard Humanities Institute. He stated, “We have an 18-quantity established of the total keyboard is effective in urtext editions would you like a single?” What had been a job involving a person CD turned two, mainly because of the shame of riches I was confronted with.

Above every little thing else, I desired to underline the richness of Bach’s creativity. I would like to plead with pianists to appear him up it’s hardly ever been much easier.

So what distinguishes his new music?

The element of angularity, and shock, and continuous delight in the unpredicted was pretty significantly a portion of Haydn, and he confessed that he owed a good debt to C.P.E. Bach. There are some really daring modulations, and what I outlined right before is not the only time he just decides to end a piece. In the slow motion of the F slight sonata I recorded, the center area retains modulating, retains modulating, keeps modulating — and then out of the blue cuts off at a really tense minute, pretty overseas to the property essential. Then there’s 3 prolonged beats of silence, and he just decides to go back again to the beginning, with no obvious marriage between the two keys.

I’ve found editions which have “corrected” this to make it a lot more palatable, a lot more standard. One that I uncovered, basically, was by Hans von Bülow, and you wouldn’t believe that the butchery occupation he performed on C.P.E.’s songs it’s unbelievable. For a although, there wasn’t significantly much more than that accessible.

Bach was crafting at a time of good technological change, as harpsichords and clavichords ended up offering way to fortepianos, a shift that allowed composers to build new signifies of expression. How would you answer to those who may possibly argue that this songs should really consequently only be done on the devices of its time, relatively than a live performance grand?

I grew up with the modern day piano, and it affords me all the satisfaction, all the success, all the musical benefits I want. So, as significantly as I appreciate occasionally participating in an outdated instrument — and I have, not necessarily in community — the new music survives becoming played on the fashionable piano. For me, that is adequate I never have to have nearly anything else. There are so lots of attainable sonorities on the contemporary piano that, for me, that is properly fulfilling.

Technological improve is in fact the issue of your most loved web page, the middle webpage of a rondo that Bach wrote in 1781 as a farewell to his prolonged-serving clavichord.

It’s an incredibly influencing piece I bear in mind during the recording session I should have been in a hurry to get to it, mainly because it was the initial piece that I set down.

In the exact center of it there is a moment: There’s a fermata, and then all of a sudden this E key chord. This E main chord is not some thing seriously outlandish, for the reason that you are coming out of B minor. But if you go away the right total of silence right before it, and if you shell out particular heed to the high quality of the attack of this chord, which is a single of the most magical moments that I’m informed of in all of audio.

I study that C.P.E. seemingly explained to the gentleman to whom he gave this Silbermann clavichord it’s absolutely impossible even to participate in the piece on a clavichord other than this 1. (C.P.E. experienced had it for all over 35 decades, I consider, so it was a very unhappy farewell.) But the good thing is I compensated no notice to that. It’s exciting to know, and it shows you the electrical power of his convictions, but it is a denial of the prospects that are obtainable on a little something like the present day piano, or any other instrument.

Funnily sufficient, the rating repeatedly notates an ornament that only just can’t be realized on a present day piano: a bebung, which is a type of vibrato. Do you just have to dismiss that, and take that the piano will make amends in other strategies?

I just experimented with to compensate elsewhere. What carried me by is the picture of C.P.E. maybe improvising this piece, and then afterwards notating it, mainly because it definitely does sound like an improvisation — like actively playing for himself.