W.F. Bach: Complete Harpsichord Music

W.F. Bach: Complete Harpsichord Music
Composer Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Artist Claudio Astronio harpsichord
Format 6 CD
Cat. number 94240
EAN code 5028421942407
Release August 2017

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About this release

The son of the peerless Johann Sebastian, Wilhelm Friedemann was the least famous Bach of his time. Yet he is now regarded by some as the most brilliant of the Bach children, and is occasionally reported to have been his father's favourite. A master of numerous different keyboard instruments, he was not particularly prolific, and of his 100 or so known works, many remained unprinted until the 20th century.

The pieces that do survive and which feature on this recording are brilliantly virtuosic and at the same time quirkily expressive, always striving for originality in ways that ran against the established modi operandi of Bach's day. In fact, the composer was so committed to allowing the musical complexity that came naturally to him to flower fully that, unlike his more business-minded brothers, he resisted adapting his style to suit amateur musicians. In addition, his fantasias, in particular, give us a glimpse into
what must have been an impressive flair for improvisation. Alternately witty, cerebral, imaginative, emotive, dark and effervescent, and always challenging, this is not music for the faint-hearted performer.

Enter Claudio Astronio, a keyboard-player and conductor with a career that also spans jazz and pop music. For this album, Astronio has chosen to record all of W.F. Bach's keyboard works – which were never assigned to a particular instrument – on the harpsichord (with the exception of four miniatures played on the organ), rendering this recording a truly unique homage to the composer. Fanfare magazine has praised Astronio's "ability to convey the character and emotional dynamic of a vocal line" as "incredibly beautiful, sensitive and deeply touching".

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was the least famous son of the great Johann Sebastian in his time. Yet reportedly he was his father’s favourite, and he was regarded as the most original and innovative of his offspring.
Wilhelm Friedemann left relatively little music, and much was only published only in the 20th century. He was an extraordinary keyboard player, which is shown in his works for the harpsichord, a collection of sonatas, fantasias, fugues and dances. His amazing improvisation skills are reflected in his style: original, witty, clever, sometimes dark and always full of imagination they are uncompromisingly challenging, a far cry from the charming and pleasing works of his brother Johann Christian (the London Bach). This is the first complete recording of Wilhelm Friedemann’s keyboard works on 6 CD’s, a tour de force by Italian Claudio Astronio, conductor, organist, harpsichordist, musicologist, an amazing artist with an open mind, pioneer in Early Music with a fondness of pop and jazz as well. “Astronio’s ability to convey the character and emotional dynamic of a vocal line is incredibly beautiful, sensitive and deeply touching” wrote Fanfare, America’s classical magazine.

Recorded in Italy in 2015–2017.
Features previously unpublished scores from the Vilnius manuscript.
Contains liner notes and a biography of the artist.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Fantasia in A Minor, F. 23
  2. Fantasia in C Major, F. 14
  3. Fantasia in D Minor, F. 19
  4. Fantasia in E Minor, F. 20
  5. Fantasia in C Minor, F. 15
  6. Fantasia in D Minor, F. 18
  7. Fantasia in D Major, F. 17
  8. Fantasia in E Minor, F. 21
  9. Fantasia in C Minor, F. 16
  10. Fugue in C Minor, F. 32
  11. Fugue in F Major, F. 33

Disk 2

  1. Sonata in C Major, F. 200: I. Allegro
  2. Sonata in C Major, F. 200: II. Andante
  3. Sonata in C Major, F. 200: III. Presto
  4. Sonata in F Major, F. 6a: I. Poco allegro
  5. Sonata in F Major, F. 6a: II. Minuetto
  6. Sonata in F Major, F. 6a: III. Presto
  7. Sonata in E Minor, F. 204: I. Allegro non tanto
  8. Sonata in E Minor, F. 204: II. Siciliano
  9. Sonata in E Minor, F. 204: III. Vivace
  10. Sonata in C Major, F. 1a: I. Allegro
  11. Sonata in C Major, F. 1a: II. Minuetto I – II
  12. Sonata in C Major, F. 1a: III. Vivace
  13. Sonata in D Major, F. 4: I. Allegretto
  14. Sonata in D Major, F. 4: II. Suave
  15. Sonata in D Major, F. 4: III. Vivace
  16. Sonata in E-Flat Major, F. 201: I. Allegro
  17. Sonata in E-Flat Major, F. 201: II. Andante
  18. Sonata in E-Flat Major, F. 201: III. Vivace
  19. Sonata in C Major, F. 2: I. Allegro
  20. Sonata in C Major, F. 2: II. Grave
  21. Sonata in C Major, F. 2: III. Presto

Disk 3

  1. Sonata in A Major, F. 8: I. Allegro
  2. Sonata in A Major, F. 8: II. Largo con tenerezza
  3. Sonata in A Major, F. 8: III. Allegro assai
  4. Sonata in F Major, F. 202: I. Allegro
  5. Sonata in F Major, F. 202: II. Siciliana
  6. Sonata in F Major, F. 202: III. Presto
  7. Sonata in E-Flat Major, F. 5: I. Allegro non troppo
  8. Sonata in E-Flat Major, F. 5: II. Largo
  9. Sonata in E-Flat Major, F. 5: III. Presto
  10. Sonata in D Major, F. 3: I. Un poco allegro
  11. Sonata in D Major, F. 3: II. Adagio
  12. Sonata in D Major, F. 3: III. Vivace
  13. Sonata in G Major, F. 7: I. Andantino – Allegro di molto
  14. Sonata in G Major, F. 7: II. Lamento
  15. Sonata in G Major, F. 7: III. Presto
  16. Sonata in B-Flat Major, F. 9: I. Un poco allegro
  17. Sonata in B-Flat Major, F. 9: II. Grazioso
  18. Sonata in B-Flat Major, F. 9: III. Allegro molto

Disk 4

  1. Polonaise in C Major, F. 12/1
  2. Polonaise in C Minor, F. 12/2
  3. Polonaise in D Major, F. 12/3
  4. Harpsichord Concerto in G Major, F. 40: I. Allegro non troppo
  5. Polonaise in D Minor, F. 12/4
  6. Polonaise in E-Flat Major, F. 12/5
  7. Polonaise in E-Flat Minor, F. 12/6
  8. Polonaise in E Major, F. 12/7
  9. Polonaise in E Minor, F. 12/8
  10. Polonaise in F Major, F. 12/9
  11. Polonaise in F Minor, F. 12/10
  12. Polonaise in G Major, F. 12/11
  13. Polonaise in G Minor, F. 12/12
  14. Harpsichord Concerto in G Major, F. 40: II. Andante
  15. Harpsichord Concerto in G Major, F. 40: III. Vivace

Disk 5

  1. Suite in G Minor, F. 24: I. Allemande
  2. Suite in G Minor, F. 24: II. Courante
  3. Suite in G Minor, F. 24: III. Sarabande
  4. Suite in G Minor, F. 24: IV. Presto
  5. Suite in G Minor, F. 24: V. Bourreé
  6. Suite in G Minor, F. 24: VI. Trio I – II
  7. Fugue in C Major, F. 31/1
  8. Fugue in C Minor, F. 31/2
  9. Fugue in D Major, F. 31/3
  10. Fugue in D Minor, F. 31/4
  11. Fugue in E-Flat Major, F. 31/5
  12. Fugue in E Minor, F. 31/6
  13. Fugue in B-Flat Major, F. 31/7
  14. Fugue in F Minor, F. 31/8
  15. Minuet in G Minor, F. 25/1
  16. Presto in D Minor, F. 25a
  17. La caccia in C Major, F. 26c
  18. Reveille in C Major, F. 27
  19. Gigue in G Major, F. 28
  20. Prelude in C Minor. F. 29
  21. March in E-Flat Major, F. 30
  22. Polonaise & Trio in C Major, F. 13
  23. Fantasia in G major, F. 22

Disk 6

  1. Ouverture in E-Flat Major, BR. A59
  2. Minuet I – II in F Major, BR. A50a
  3. Minuet I – II –3 Variations on Minuet I in F Major, BR. A50b
  4. March in F Major, BR. A57
  5. Poco allegro, BR. A62
  6. Fantasia in D Minor, BR. A105
  7. Fantasia in G Major, BR. A106
  8. Allegro in D Major, BR. A107
  9. Allegro in D Minor, BR. A108
  10. Minuet – Trio in C Major, BR. A109
  11. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: I. Minuet
  12. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: II. Var. 1
  13. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: III. Var. 2
  14. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: IV. Var. 3
  15. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: V. Var. 4
  16. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: VI. Var. 5
  17. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: VII. Var. 6
  18. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: VIII. Var. 7
  19. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: IX. Var. 8
  20. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: X. Var. 9
  21. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: XI. Var. 10
  22. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: XII. Var. 11
  23. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: XIII. Var. 12
  24. Minuet in G Major with 13 Variations, BR. A110: XIV. Var. 13
  25. “Christus, der ist mein Leben”, BR. A101
  26. “Die Seele Christi heilge mich”, BR. A102
  27. “Sey Lob und Ehr”, BR. A103
  28. “Nun freut euch, lieben Christen”, BR. A104