The most comprehensive single-volume collection of keyboard music by one of Bach’s most talented pupils, recorded by an Italian early-music specialist with a distinguished catalogue of 17th-century repertoire.
The son of a Weimar-based organist, Johann Krebs (1713-1780) entered the Thomasschule in Leipzig under the tutelage of Capellmeister Bach at the age of 12 in 1726. There he remained for the best part of a decade, and a glowing testimonial from Bach commended his talents on the clavier, violin and lute, as well as in composition. Krebs never attained the Leipzig post which his instrumental talents deserved, but he served as an organist in several churches south of Leipzig through the course of a long and distinguished professional life which reached fruition as organist at the court of Prince Friedrich of Gotha-Altenburg from 1755 onwards.
The inveterate traveller and commentator Charles Burney reported that ‘M. Krebs of Altenburg, scholar of Sebastian Bach, has been much admired for his full and masterly manner of playing the organ.’ The style of Krebs’s own music reflects the transitional period in which he lived. The hand of the master lightly guides the cosmopolitan elegance of the three partitas on CD1 of this collection. Krebs compiled a Clavier-Übung (Keyboard Practice) of his own in 1744, from which Michele Benuzzi performs a C major suite and, six lively Italianate sonatas.
A volume of six suites from 1746 shows the influence of the galant style which was coming into fashion at the time, embodied by the output of Bach’s most accomplished son, Carl Philipp Emanuel. Several more suites here are sophisticated examples of Krebs’s mastery in the ‘French and Italian taste’ as well as demonstrating the fluency of his keyboard writing and the craftsmanship of his counterpoint.
This important collection joins several other albums of little-known keyboard music from the period, recorded for Brilliant Classics by Michele Benuzzi. A student of Ottavio Dantone, he has performed the complete sonatas of Scarlatti and given recitals at major festivals in Europe and Asia.
Praise for Michele Benuzzi on Brilliant Classics
‘Michele Benuzzi covers himself in glory with this release. He is the ideal interpreter to bring this music to light: highly sensitive to the gesture and emotion of the music, yet capable of carrying the musical narrative forward in telling fashion.’ Fanfare (Hässler, 94293)
‘Benuzzi’s style is perfectly matched to Nichelmann’s… The style is never labored, but always concentrated and careful.’ Fanfare (Nichelmann, 94809)
‘Michele Benuzzi’s playing is didactic and powerful, quite virile and forceful.' Fanfare (Gallés, 95228)
- Johann Ludwig Krebs was born in Buttelstedt, a small town in Thuringia and was sent to study organ, lute and violin in Leipzig. He spent nine years from 1726 to 1735 studying at the Thomasschule where Johann Sebastian Bach was Kantor. Krebs was considered one of his best students and he was Bach's assistant at the Thomaskirche, playing the harpsichord at the Collegium Musicum under the direction of his Master. Krebs left Leipzig in 1737 to take a position as organist of the Marienkirche in Zwickau. In 1755 he accepted a position as organist at the court of Duke Friedrich of Gotha-Sachsen-Altenberg in Altenburg where he remained until his death in 1780.
- This newly recorded 6-CD set contains the complete music for harpsichord by Krebs. Such was the power and influence of Bach that it is inevitable that Krebs’ style is strongly inspired by his master. Bach once remarked about his highly esteemed pupil: “Er ist der einzige Krebs in meinem Bache” (he is the only crab in my brook). The harpsichord works include Partitas, Suites, Sonatinas and Preludes.
- The instruments used on this recording are a harpsichord by Detmar Hungerberg (2014) after Michael Mietke and a Silbermann Piano by Andrea Restelli (1996) after Gottfried Silbermann 1749.
- Michele Benuzzi is one of the foremost and most enterprising keyboard players of the moment. His earlier recordings for Brilliant Classics, with works by Hässler, Gallés, Nichelmann and Benda, received excellent reviews, Fanfare gave an ‘absolute highest recommendation’ to Benuzzi’s Hässler album. ‘He is the ideal interpreter to bring this music to light: highly sensitive to the gesture and emotion of the music, yet capable of carrying the musical narrative forward in telling fashion.”