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Bach, J S - Bach & Sons 2 - Knauer, Sebastian



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He sensed the fascination when he was very young. As a child, Sebastian Knauer was present at seminal performances of the St Matthew Passion and the “Christmas Oratorio” in St Michael’s Church in Hamburg. And even at that early age, he enjoyed playing Bach himself on the piano. But his childhood enthusiasm was tempered with respect for the works of the great Thomaskantor. “I noticed at once: It is a huge challenge – not only in terms of keyboard technique, but mentally too,” he recalls. “In my student days and during the first few years of my career as a pianist I was constantly working on his music, but rarely played it in public concerts. Particularly when it came to the piano concertos, I never really felt myself to be ready, because I was searching all the time for my own picture of the music.” Sebastian Knauer deliberately gave himself time, engaging himself intensively with Bach’s musical cosmos until he was prepared to take his discoveries before an audience. “As a pianist I wanted to have a particular routine on stage, come to inner peace,” he explains. “In the case of Bach that is particularly important, because the control this music demands of you simply must be there. That is why I had to mature before I could convincingly display my stylistic picture of Bach.” Sebastian Knauer confirms that this has something to do with the choice of instrument, always a vexed question among Bach scholars and exponents: harpsichord or modern concert grand? “I have no intention of entering into competition with the harpsichord and fortepiano specialists,” he explains. “I exploit the potential of a modern grand piano, but aim to approximate my sound spectrum and playing technique to that of the harpsichord. That means not using the whole range of a pedal and not applying the sort of touch that I might adopt for a Romantic work.” His view was endorsed by Sir Roger Norrington, a noted early-music specialist, with whom he worked on the first “Bach & Sons” CD. The conductor’s artistic credo, that what matters for historical performance practice is not the sort of instrument you play, but the way and the style in which you play it, is one that Sebastian Knauer fully subscribes to. That is no less true of “Bach & Sons 2”, on which the pianist has once more explored the musical legacy of the Bach dynasty. “After all, I am constantly on the look-out for repertoire that is still little known. And so I wanted to take the much-recorded original Bach and add something that is not so common, and at the same time is worth listening to.” It is this mixture of exceptional curiosity with the aspiration to enrich the established repertoire with unusual pieces that so typifies Sebastian Knauer – elsewhere and on this recording. Alongside the two Concertos BWV 1055 and 1056 there are real rarities on this CD, such as the Concerto by C.P.E. Bach. “This work has always absolutely fascinated me, but there was never a published edition of it. Publisher Dohr helped me out and ensured that we had a version in print in good time for the CD.” Even more exciting is the story behind the Concerto by J.C. Bach, which turned the pianist into a musicological researcher at short notice. “I was looking through a collection of sheet music that was being broken up and found a work by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. Then it emerged that it had been published under a false name and was actually by Johann Christian Bach.” The compositions selected by Sebastian Knauer are of great interest not only as repertoire but because they give an absorbing account of how the piano-concerto genre evolved. That is relevant to the works of C.P.E. Bach, an intermediary between the classic Baroque of his father and the dawning age of Viennese Classicism. “He is a composer of the transitional period,” states Sebastian Knauer, “in whom one can hear sounds that presage the future alongside passages that clearly draw upon his past. That is in part a genuine search for a new style, when he has fermatas for instance at which he pauses. That is very appealing, especially in connexion with the works by his father.” That also applies to his brother Johann Christian, “whose music has a somewhat more amiable style than that of his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel, who sometimes comes over as a bit unwieldy. He is another piece in the music-history jigsaw puzzle.” Father and sons do have more than stylistic differences from one another. The treatment of the solo instrument undergoes a fundamental change at this watershed in the history of music. The keyboard instrument is increasingly emancipated from its accompanying function in continuo, progressing to the status of a true solo instrument. “In the works of J.S. Bach, the harpsichord or pianoforte – the clavier – is still a full member of the ensemble,” comments Sebastian Knauer. “In other words, the clavier joins in orchestral tutti. In turn, the orchestra remains very much in play when the clavier emerges from the tutti as a solo instrument. The two are not really separated; they are still perceived as a coherent unit.” This union is already being weakened in the works of Carl Philipp and Johann Christian Bach, whose concertos tend more and more to showcase the soloist. “That is again noticeable in the two concertos on this CD, in which the orchestra begins before the piano enters with its solo – as was the rule a little later in Viennese Classical music.”
Fakta
Artikelnummer 0300764BC
Streckkod 0885470007649
Utgivningsdatum 2017-05-19
Kategori Klassiskt
Skivbolag Berlin Classics
Enhet CD
Antal enheter 1
Utövare
Artister Knauer, Sebastian
Kompositörer Bach, J S
Bach, C P E
Bach, J C
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