Among the foremost contributions to the celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of Carl Philipp Emanuel, most gifted musical son of J.S Bach, was the compendious, 30CD Brilliant Classics edition (BC94640) which spanned his diverse output of orchestral, chamber, keyboard and vocal works, and to which the Italian fortepianist contributed as a continuo player for a disc of chamber music and recorder concertos also issued separately (BC94864). His other recordings for the label include rarely recorded, extensive collections of music by Giustini (BC94021) and Telemann (BC94228) as well as sonatas with viola d’amore by Domenico Scarlatti (BC94242).
For his latest release Andrea Coen has turned to the eleven sets of keyboard variations which CPE composed over a period of 45 years, centred round his service to the Court of Frederick the Great in the magnificent palace in Potsdam. The best known, thanks to its ubiquitous melody, is the ‘La folia’ / ‘Les folies d’Espagne’ set, but there are anonymous ariosi and Italian and German keyboard works from which CPE took ever-inventive inspiration, indicating the cosmopolitan breadth of his interests, which is further illustrated by the variation sets themselves. They explore every facet of contemporary keyboard technique, including the developing style of legato on the fortepiano instruments newly developed by Gottfried Silbermann, the instrument-maker most admired by CPE’s father – on this recording Coen plays a modern copy of a Silbermann model made by Kerstin Schwarz.
Dazzling runs and scales, hand-crossing at speed, brief flourishes of contrapuntal intricacy, stately Andantes which often form the still centre of the variation sets: all are designed by CPE not to tax the brain but to give pleasure and demonstrate a musician’s skill: CPE’s contemporary Reichardt could justly remark of both his playing and his music that ‘he shows quite clearly the great knowledge of harmony and the immeasurable richness of rare and unusual turns of phrase that mark him as the greatest original genius.’
This newly-recorded 2CD set contains the complete variation cycles by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Carl Philipp Emanuel was the most famous and successful son of the great Johann Sebastian. He was a protagonist of the Empfindsame Stil, intended to express true and natural feelings, featuring sudden contrasts of mood en emotions. This is especially applicable to the sets of variations for keyboard, in which the composer lets his imagination free reign, varying from purely ornamental variations of an instrumental/technical nature, to the complete change of character.
The basis of the variation sets are arias or ariosos, a minuet or a famous melody of the time, like “Les folies d’Espagne”.
Played on a Kerstin Schwarz fortepiano (after Silbermann 1749) by Andrea Coen, one of the most prominent keyboard players of Italy, who successfully recorded for Brilliant Classics works by Telemann, Cimarosa and Giustini, resulting in 5-star reviews in the international press.