Miklós Spányi

C.P.E. Bach: The Solo Keyboard Music, Vol. 20

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Sweden's BIS label deserves huzzahs all around for its vast series of C.P.E. Bach's solo keyboard music, which reaches its 20th volume with this release. Hungarian historical keyboardist Miklós Spányi plays a clavichord, a copy of a 1785 instrument from Dresden. It's a delightful thing to hear, capable of a good deal of dynamic range, and it fits the composer's intellectual but somewhat bizarre music to a T. The music here is not among Bach's most experimental, and with the exception of the slow movement of the Keyboard Sonata in C major, Wq 65/41, it avoids the chromaticism of the so-called empfindsamer Stil (style of sensitivity). These sonatas were all composed in the 1760s, and they sound exactly like the ones Haydn would have had in mind when he helped out future historians by saying that no one who listens closely can fail to realize how much he owes to C.P.E. Bach. They are quirky, economical, and a great deal of fun. Even the sole minor-key sonatas are not heavy in mood. Start with the first movement of the Keyboard Sonata in D major, Wq 65/40 (track 4), for a typical example of Bach's sonata procedure, with opening material proposing a seemingly slight problem that will be exploited with great skill over the course of the movement. The middle movements are slow, dense, and expressive, sounding quite a bit like those in many of Haydn's middle-period sonatas, and the finales can be very witty indeed. Try the finale of the Keyboard Sonata in B flat major, Wq 65/45, for a sparse piece of humor that arguably outdoes even Haydn for brevity. It's just one of several real masterpieces on the disc, which could serve well as an introduction to Spányi's series. Strongly recommended, with beautiful production values. Concise, informative notes are in English, German, and French.

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