Sunday, March 30, 2014

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Harpsichord Concertos


   Born March 8th, 1714 in Weimar Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was second son of Johann Sebastian Bach. His father asked his friend and composer Georg Philipp Telemann to be his godfather. Such background was perfect foundation to develop a career of professional musician. He was well educated, studied not only music with his father but also jurisprudence in Leipzig and Frankfurt. Studying law in university was most efficient way to achieve higher social position. It is worth to remember in first half of 18th century musicians without formal education were treated as servants. But the same musicians with university degree were treated like court counselors while doing exactly the same job. In 1738, after receiving the degree, he started his creative career as musician in orchestra of Prince Frederic II, who became the King of Prussia two years later. In rich cultural environment of Frederic the Great’s house Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was working for next three decades. In 1746 he was promoted for the post of chamber musician. He was friend of poet and dramatist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and stayed in contact with many prominent artists, poets, scientists gathered around Berlin court and Potsdam Sanssouci palace.
   Time between 1738 and 1768 was most fruitful time of his artistic and personal development. For the role of thirty years period he was called Berliner Bach. His second sobriquet, Hamburger Bach is also connected with place of his work and living, this time with the last twenty years of his career. During his Berlin years Philipp Emanuel was in frequent contacts with his godfather maintaining the lively correspondence with Georg Philipp Telemann who was director of music in the city of Hamburg. Probably before Telemann died in 1767, he appointed his godson to be the successor for his post. In 1768 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach took in Hamburg the position of his deceased godfather. He was hired as a music director in five main churches and cantor in Johanneum School. This period was fruitful in concert instrumental works and big sacred vocal forms.  He died in December 1788, he composed oratorios like Die Israeliten in der Wüste (1775), Morgengesang am Schöpfungsfeste (1784) and Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt (1787).

Harpsichord Concertos by C. P. E. Bach & W. A. Mozart 

   Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was known for sensitive style known as empfindsamer Stil. It was typical for esthetics of Sturm und Drang era, manifested with using free harmonics as coloristic element or frequent changes in mood. His position in European music was very high, Joseph Haydn was learning analyzing C. P. E. Bach’s scores, Mozart and Beethoven remembered him as master composer. In Berlin and Hamburg he was widely recognized. He influenced many composers of North German School.
   As the illustration of differences and contacts between North German School of 18th century and Classic Viennese School one can consider the 1975 record comprising three concerti played on original instruments: Concerto E Major for Harpsichord and Strings Wq. 14, Concerto G Major for Harpsichord, two Horns, two Flutes and Strings Wq. 43 No. 5 and Johann Christian Bach’s Concerto D Major for Harpsichord, two Violins and Bass K.107/1 orchestrated by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart after J. Ch. Bach’s Sonata for Pianoforte Op. 5 No. 2. Soloist in these performances was Trevor Pinnock who was also conducting The English Concert. Record was highly appreciated and republished in many countries. As rewarded with Grand Prix d’Amis Fidelio it was published in Hungarian series under this label. Four stars for this renditions still fresh almost 40 years later.