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Bach, C.P.E.: Keyboard Sonatas Vol.2
Audio CD | Import
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English pianist Danny Driver presents a second volume of CPE Bach's startlingly original and inventive keyboard sonatas. This release spans the composer's career, taking the listener from the highly expressive manner of his early works to his mastery of the Classical style - in which he still retains the distinctive characteristics, the fantastical changes of mood and tempo which both astounded and perplexed his contemporaries. Driver proves a peerless guide to this fascinating music, performing with elegance and vigor.
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C. P. E. B. was a bridge, though an idiosyncratic one, between the classical style of Mozart (or his father) and the soon-to-come Romantic deluge of uneven time signatures, dramatic swells and dips in volume, and a preoccupation with the emotional underpinnings and effect of the music being played.
C. P. E. B. is not a household name -at least, it wasn't in my household. I became aware of him through sampling thirty-second sound bites on Amazon.com of recordings by one of my favorite pianists, Mikhail Pletnev. In 2002, he released an album of sonatas and rondos by C. P. E. B. I bought it and loved it. They reminded me of Pletnev's CD of Scarlatti sonatas, which was a forceful updating of eighteenth-century compositions on twentieth-century grand piano. The Pletnev album of C. P. E. Bach sonatas and rondos is still one of my favorite classical albums. The composer continually upset my expectations of the style of music being played. Listening to it startled me and to label it in any say shortchanges its originality and musical excellence. (Does it sound like I like C. P. E. Bach?)
Listening to this music, "fantasy" is the word that comes to mind. It's fragmented rather than whole, virtuosic rather than uniformly melodic. I don't mean to say melody and wholeness don't exist in it, but with C. P. E. B., it`s best to expect the unexpected. It's a music of juxtaposition.
Back to Driver. I suspect that Driver's version of C. P. E. B. is closer to the composer's intent than is Pletnev's. In Driver's renditions, it is a music of stops, silences, starts and sudden changes. From what I've read of the composer, this was his intention. His music still had the glistening surface of much of classical composition but the sudden changes signaled turmoil or emotional change. Whatever is true, Driver's renditions of Bach's intriguing music is full-blooded (it would be easy to make this music a bloodless intellectual or musical exercise but Driver never does that) and compelling.
This is excellent music and well worth listening. It's interesting how many first rater composers slip through the net of the Great Classicals. It shouldn't happen. Maybe we should start a campaign on the Internet.......