Fifth son of Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel was in his time even more celebrated than his father.
His style developed during his long lifetime (1714-1788), more and more abandoning the Baroque counterpoint. New ways of musical expression were found, called “Empfindsamkeit” and “Sturm und Drang”, in which the human emotions are vividly expressed in quickly changing moods and daring harmonic shifts.
The famous Preussische und Württembergische Sonaten form a landmark of a style changing from Baroque to the Classical Era. Pieter-jan Belder has a special feeling for these quirky and capricious works, keeping form and content firmly together. His extensive discography for Brilliant Classics contains nearly all Bach works, the complete Scarlatti Sonatas, and the complete harpsichord works of Ramea.
The keyboard sonatas of C.P.E. Bach (1714–1788) bear the hallmarks of a composer who lived through a significant moment in musical history; the fifth child of J.S. Bach, not only was Carl Philipp Emanuel employed at the court of Frederick the Great – whose patronage and amateur music making remain legendary to this day – he composed his works during the transition from the Baroque to the Classical period. His keyboard sonatas, in particular, are musical landmarks that epitomise the style and values of an era. The Preussische and Württembergische Sonatas, collected together on this splendid new 3-disc set, exemplify C.P.E. Bach’s celebrated style of composition, while revealing the impact of the period’s stylistic influences. The Empfindsamkeit and Sturm und Drang movements, in particular, can be heard in the music’s thrilling and unexpected changes of mood, emphasis on expression, daring approach to harmony and diminishing reliance on traditional counterpoint.
Although there are traces of the earlier style, brought to its perfection by Carl Philipp Emanuel’s father, the Preussische and Württembergische sonatas demonstrate a determined shift towards a new style, prefiguring the Classical era. Given an expert performance by the awardwinning harpsichordist and clavichord player Pieter-Jan Belder, whose interpretations highlight the expressive qualities and shifting moods of the music, these sonatas give a compelling insight into the transition from the Baroque era to the Classical period, and into a composer who was at the forefront of the stylistic movements of his day.