The topic of the pianist Marc-André Hamelin’s hottest album is Bach — no, not that just one.
Hamelin — at any time inquisitive in checking out the outer reaches of the repertoire, with current releases of audio by Sigismond Thalberg, Samuil Feinberg and Erno Dohnanyi — has now turned to the remarkable vary of keyboard functions by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian’s next surviving son.
C.P.E. Bach was a prolific composer and an important pedagogue, a substantial impact on Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. (Hamelin’s new album is a welcome companion to the three volumes of solo Haydn that he established down, with best panache, a 10 years and extra in the past on the Hyperion label.) But if he was much more commonly appreciated than his father perfectly into the 19th century, that has undoubtedly not been the circumstance much more just lately.
In element, which is mainly because C.P.E.’s class-defying scores challenge preconceptions of the background of new music as it has arrive to be composed — coming off as stunningly, even unnervingly, experimental. When did the “Baroque” conclusion, and the “Classical” start off? What constitutes “early music”? The do the job of C.P.E. Bach invitations us to consider these inquiries anew, indicates the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, who has recorded some of this new music and wrote the booklet notes for Hamelin’s two-disc established.
Hamelin will take us from a juvenile march C.P.E. wrote just before 1725 to two of the prolonged, improvisatory fantasies he composed just in advance of his demise, in 1788. Questioned in an job interview to pick a preferred webpage from the scores, Hamelin selected the “Abschied von meinem Silbermannischen Claviere, in einem Rondo” (“Farewell to My Silbermannischen Clavier, in a Rondo”), a haunting tribute to a preferred clavichord in 1781. Right here are edited excerpts from the discussion.
Even for adventurous pianists like your self, the music of C.P.E. Bach is not just popular. How did you choose it up?
My wife, Cathy Fuller, is a person of the hosts at WCRB radio in Boston, and back again in both 2008 or 2009 she performed one slash from Mikhail Pletnev’s Deutsche Grammophon recording of C.P.E. Bach. It was a tiny sonata in E minimal it is 3 actions, pretty compact, about seven or 8 minutes. The piece ends abruptly, in the center of a phrase. Bach just decides to conclusion it on a tonic 1st inversion, which was a overall shock to me. You just have to appear at Gesualdo to see how much some composers could go even extremely early in historical past, but this was seriously rather a shock.
By coincidence, I had just inherited a collection of scores which provided 6 volumes of audio that C.P.E. published pretty late in lifestyle, in the 1780s, for “connoisseurs and amateurs.” So I ran to the new music, and, sure sufficient, which is accurately what C.P.E. was inquiring for — no diminuendo, no rallentando, nothing at all. In a natural way I desired to uncover out far more, so I started off reading through from the six volumes, and then I acquired all the things I could uncover. I turned quite, pretty enthusiastic the idea to file some of these points was always in the again of my head, but it took a whilst for me to get the wheels in motion.
When I started chatting about this undertaking, with no recording date in head, I bought a incredibly great e-mail from Paul Corneilson of the Packard Humanities Institute. He reported, “We have an 18-volume established of the total keyboard works in urtext editions would you like one particular?” What experienced been a venture involving a person CD grew to become two, for the reason that of the embarrassment of riches I was confronted with.
Previously mentioned all the things else, I needed to underline the richness of Bach’s creativeness. I would like to plead with pianists to glance him up it is never been easier.
So what distinguishes his tunes?
The aspect of angularity, and shock, and continual delight in the sudden was quite a lot a element of Haydn, and he confessed that he owed a terrific personal debt to C.P.E. Bach. There are some exceptionally daring modulations, and what I outlined before is not the only time he just decides to conclusion a piece. In the sluggish motion of the F slight sonata I recorded, the center segment retains modulating, keeps modulating, keeps modulating — and then quickly cuts off at a very tense minute, very overseas to the property key. Then there’s a few prolonged beats of silence, and he just decides to go again to the beginning, with no very clear relationship concerning the two keys.
I have viewed editions which have “corrected” this to make it extra palatable, more standard. Just one that I uncovered, really, was by Hans von Bülow, and you wouldn’t believe the butchery position he executed on C.P.E.’s tunes it’s unbelievable. For a though, there was not significantly much more than that readily available.
Bach was writing at a time of excellent technological alter, as harpsichords and clavichords have been giving way to fortepianos, a shift that authorized composers to create new implies of expression. How would you reply to all those who may argue that this new music should really as a result only be carried out on the devices of its time, fairly than a live performance grand?
I grew up with the modern piano, and it affords me all the enjoyment, all the achievement, all the musical success I want. So, as a lot as I value in some cases participating in an outdated instrument — and I have, not automatically in general public — the songs survives getting played on the fashionable piano. For me, that is adequate I do not want anything else. There are so numerous achievable sonorities on the modern day piano that, for me, that’s perfectly satisfying.
Technological improve is in actuality the subject matter of your favored website page, the center site of a rondo that Bach wrote in 1781 as a farewell to his long-serving clavichord.
It is an exceptionally affecting piece I remember in the course of the recording session I should have been in a hurry to get to it, simply because it was the initial piece that I put down.
In the correct middle of it there is a instant: There is a fermata, and then instantly this E major chord. This E major chord is not a thing actually outlandish, simply because you are coming out of B slight. But if you go away the ideal amount of money of silence right before it, and if you shell out particular heed to the excellent of the assault of this chord, that is a person of the most magical times that I’m mindful of in all of tunes.
I study that C.P.E. apparently reported to the gentleman to whom he gave this Silbermann clavichord it is definitely not possible even to participate in the piece on a clavichord other than this a person. (C.P.E. had experienced it for all-around 35 several years, I believe, so it was a extremely unhappy farewell.) But thankfully I compensated no attention to that. It’s fascinating to know, and it reveals you the electricity of his convictions, but it is a denial of the choices that are available on a thing like the fashionable piano, or any other instrument.
Funnily plenty of, the score repeatedly notates an ornament that basically just cannot be accomplished on a contemporary piano: a bebung, which is a variety of vibrato. Do you just have to ignore that, and take that the piano will make amends in other techniques?
I just tried using to compensate somewhere else. What carried me by way of is the impression of C.P.E. maybe improvising this piece, and then later notating it, due to the fact it definitely does seem like an improvisation — like participating in for himself.