Musica Novantica Vienna

Family Matters

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Quite a few recordings through the years have paired music by J.S. Bach with that of one or more of his six composer sons. But this one, featuring a pair of J.S. Bach trio sonatas with music by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach, arguably the three most famous sons, is unique: it attempts, in scientific parlance, to control for a single factor in order to stimulate thinking about the nature of the elder Bach's influence. That factor is the medium: all the pieces are trio sonatas, or, in the cases of those composed after that genre fell out of fashion, flute trios. The opening work is ideal: the Trio Sonata in G major, BWV 1038, was part of a composition lesson in which one of the Bach sons, probably W.F., was given the chance to add upper lines (for flute and violin, but reasonably played here by two flutes) to a bass line by the elder Bach. The fruits of these lessons are evident in Wilhelm Friedemann's Trio Sonata in D major, F. 47, in which the new variety of texture coming to the fore in the middle 18th century seems to be trying to get out from under the web of Bachian counterpoint. The Trio in G major of Johann Christian Bach and the Trio in E major, Wq 162, of C.P.E. Bach typify the styles of their respective composers but are not well known and are nicely played here by the members of Musica Novantica Vienna, using a fortepiano for the keyboard part (not out of the question, but a daring choice for the C.P.E. trio, composed in 1749). With excellent sound from an Austrian castle, this can be recommended to lovers of the Bach family, or to anyone who puzzles over the effect of having a famous father. Booklet notes are in English, French, and German.

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