Miklós Spányi

C.P.E. Bach: The Solo Keyboard Music, Vol. 19

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This release is part of a series by historical keyboardist Miklós Spányi devoted to the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and played on a tangent piano. A bit more of an explanation of this intriguing instrument in the notes would have been helpful for general listeners. It was an early piano, eclipsed by the end of the 18th century in popularity by the more powerful fortepiano with its hammers. The instrument featured a small piece of wood actuated by the player's finger striking a key and, unlike a clavichord, featured the rebound action of a piano. Its most distinctive feature was a series of stops that altered the sound substantially enough that the instrument was sometimes compared to an organ. Spányi explores this exotic effect in the two small sets of variations on the album, especially the Variations on an Arietta in A major, Wq 118/2 (track 7), which be a joint work featuring variations by several composers. The opening Variations in F major on Ich schlief, da träumte mir, Wq 118/2, are an amateur work, interesting for students of early piano music but less so for others. The Keyboard Sonata in E flat major, Wq 65/42, and Sinfonia in F major, Wq 122/5, are of a different kind; as the name of the latter piece suggests, they represent Bach's attempt to transfer orchestral effects to the piano, and they might easily have been direct ancestors to Mozart's Piano Sonata in D major, K. 284. The tangent piano works beautifully in these pieces and suggests possible use as well in the sonatas of Mozart (who knew the instrument and called it a Spattisches Klavier after one of its makers) and Haydn (whose keyboard music was deeply and admittedly influenced by that of C.P.E.). The miscellaneous music on this recording, designated as nothing more than "Various Pieces from the 1760s" in the album's subtitle, stands to the side of the mainstream of C.P.E. Bach's output, and there is no example of the dramatic empfindsamer Stil for which he is probably most popular. But it's a great deal of fun for the lover of early piano music. Notes are in German, French, and English.

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