BACH, C.P.E.: Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord, Wq. 83-87 (Bela Drahos/ Ibolya Toth/ Zsuzsa Pertis) (Naxos: 8.550513)
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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714 - 1788)
Sonata in D Major, Wq. 83
Sonata in E Major, Wq. 84
Sonata in G Major, Wq. 85
Sonata in G Major, Wq. 86
Sonata in C Major, Wq. 87
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was born in 1714 in Weimar, thesecond son of Johann Sebastian Bach, then newly appointed Konzertmeister to the Grand DukeWilhelm Ernst. He attended the Latin School in Cathen, where his father became CourtKapellmeister in 1717 and in 1723 moved with the family to Leipzig, where he became apupil at the Thomasschule, where his father had become Cantor. In 1731 he matriculated asa law student at the University of Leipzig, embarking on a course of study that had beendenied his father. He continued these studies at the University of Frankfurt an der Oderand in 1738, rejecting the chance of accompanying a young gentleman on a tour abroad, heentered the service of the Crown Prince of Prussia at Ruppin as harpsichordist, movingwith the court to Berlin in 1740, on the accession to the throne of the Prince, Frederickthe Great.
In Berlin and Potsdam Bach, confirmed as Court Harpsichordist,had the unenviable task of accompanying evening concerts at which the King was a frequentperformer. His colleagues, generally of a more conservative tendency, included thedistinguished flautist and theorist Quantz, the Benda and Graun brothers and others ofsimilar reputation, while men of letters at the court included Lessing. On his father'sdeath in 1750 he applied for his position in Leipzig, but was unsuccessful and it was notuntil 1768 that he was able to escape from a position that he had found increasinglyuncongenial to succeed his godfather Telemann as City Director of Music at the five citychurches of Hamburg. Here he spent the last twenty years of his life. In Berlin he had wona wider reputation with his Versuch ??ber die wahre Artdas Clavier zu spielen (Essay on the True Art of Clavier Playing) and wasregarded as the leading keyboard-player of his day. In Hamburg he continued to enjoy hisestablished position as a man of wide general education, able to mix on equal terms withthe leading writers of his generation and no mere working musician. He died in 1788, hisdeath mourned by a generation that thought of him as more important that his father,"the old periwig".
As a composer C.P.E. Bach was prolific enough, writing aconsiderable amount of music for the harpsichord, with comparatively little for the flute,considering that it was the instrument played by Frederick the Great. His musicexemplifies the theories expounded in his Essay, with a tendency to use dramatic andrhetorical devices, a fine command of melody and a relatively sparing use of w hat by histime seemed the merely academic. The reference numbers to Bach's works follow the thematiccatalogue compiled in 1905 by Wotquenne.
The present sonatas for flute and harpsichord belong to theBerlin period of Bach's career. In three movements they otter music of immediateattraction, pleasing and effective. The Sonata in Dmajor for flute and harpsichord, Wq. 83, was possibly written in 1747, the yearof Johann Sebastian Bach's visit to his son at Potsdam. The sonata also exists in a triosonata version. The Sonata in E major, Wq. 84, was also adapted as a trio sonata for twoflutes and harpsichord and was probably written as a Duetto in 1749. The two G major Sonatas, Wq. 85 and Wq. 86, possibly writtenin 1754 and 1755, were also arranged in trio sonata form. The Sonata in C major, Wq. 87,was composed in 1766, two years before Bach's departure, from Berlin, an occasion markedby the expressed approval of Princess Anna Amalia, the King's sister, who made him herKapellmeister in absentia when he moved to Hamburg.
Bela Drahos was born in Kaposvar in South-West Hungary in1955 and entered the Gyor Conservatory in 1969, winning first prize in the ConcertinoPrague 71 International Flute Competition and a year later in the flute competition stagedby Hungarian Television. Study at the Ferenc Liszt Academy in Budapest led to graduationwith distinction in 1978, after a further award in Prague and in 1979 at the BratislavaInterpodium, and further distinction. including the Hungarian Liszt Prize in 1985,selection as Artist of the Year in Hungary in 1986 and the Bartok-Pasztory Prize in 1988.
Bela Drahos is the leader and founding member of the Hungarian Radio Wind Quintet andsince 1976 has served as Principal Flautist of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. Hisconcert career has included performances throughout Europe and as far afield as NewZealand.
The Hungarian keyboard-player Zsuzsa Pertis was a piano pupilof Pal Kadosa at the Ferenc Liszt Academy in Budapest, proceeding thereafter to theVienna Academy. where she studied the harpsichord under Isolde Ahlgrimm. graduating withdistinction in 1969, a year after winning second prize in the Bruges InternationalHarpsichord Competition. Since 1969 she has been professor of harpsichord at the FerencLiszt Academy and is a member of the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra. She has performed inthe major cities of Europe and with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra abroad and at homein the concert-hall of the recording-studio.