Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-1788)
Bust at the Konzerthaus, Berlin

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

born: 8 March 1714
died: 14 December 1788
country: Germany

In 1773 the English music historian Charles Burney cautioned that the works of CPE Bach were ‘so uncommon, that a little habit is necessary for the enjoyment of [them]’. In fact, he claimed, many critics faulted Bach for writing works that were ‘fantastical’ and ‘far-fetched’. Burney, however, then rushed to Bach’s defence. ‘His flights are not the wild ravings of ignorance or madness, but the effusions of cultivated genius. His pieces … will be found, upon a close examination, to be so rich in invention, taste, and learning, that … each line of them, if wire-drawn, would furnish more new ideas than can be discovered in a whole page of many other compositions.’

Indeed, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788), second son of Johann Sebastian, was both revered and criticized by his contemporaries for his bold departures from conventional modes of musical expression. During his years as ‘first harpsichordist’ at the court of Frederick the Great of Prussia, and later as music director of the principal churches in Hamburg, Bach perfected a highly original and intensely personal compositional style known as the empfindsamer Stil (literally, the ‘sensitive style’). Bach’s approach to musical expressiveness found voice in frequent mood changes, wide melodic leaps, abundant rests and ‘sighing’ motifs, irregular phrase structures, the juxtaposition of contrasting rhythmic figures, deceptive cadences, and dramatic, rhetorical harmonic interjections. Bach became particularly renowned for his ability to improvise fantasias—seemingly free-form, stream-of-consciousness flights of fancy characterized by unmeasured rhythm and distant harmonic excursions. Yet underlying even the most improvisatory of his compositions is a coherent structure. Bach himself instructed his students to construct such fantasias by first devising a strict harmonic foundation, and he even published an analysis of one of his own pieces in which he presented the skeletal framework lying beneath its surface irregularity.

Emanuel Bach’s music thus breaks dramatically away from, yet also builds upon, the early eighteenth-century style perfected by his father. His compositions mark one of the first—and among the most inspired—repudiations of the Baroque aesthetic, in which a single unified mood dominates each movement. Significantly, however, Bach does not simply contrast two emotional states, as is typical in later Classical works, but rather explores a multitude of affects juxtaposed in close proximity and often set off by rests or dynamic changes. In fact, CPE Bach not only set in motion many of the changes that would become manifest in the music of Haydn and Beethoven, but also looked beyond the Classical period to many of the ideals of the nineteenth century.

from notes by Leta Miller © 2010

Albums

Bach (CPE): Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu
CDH55478Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Bach (CPE): Flute Concerto & Sonatas
CDH88033Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Bach (CPE): Flute Concertos
CDA67226Archive Service
Bach (CPE): Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 1
CDA67786
Bach (CPE): Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 2
Studio Master: CDA67908Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Bach (CPE): La Folia & other works
CDH55232Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Bach (CPE): Württemberg Sonatas
Studio Master: CDA67995Best of 2014Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Hyperion monthly sampler – December 2014
FREE DOWNLOADHYP201412Download-only monthly sampler NEW
A Bach notebook for trumpet
CKD418Download only
Arias for Guadagni
Studio Master: CDA67924Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Bach: Flute Sonatas
Studio Master: CDA67897Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Bach: The Complete Flute Sonatas & the attributions
CDD220772CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Fantasien
Studio Master: CKD441Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
La Folia
CDA67035Download currently discounted

Complete works available for download

12 Variationen über die Folie d'Espagne, H263 Wq118/9Robert Woolley (harpsichord)
Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, H777Ex Tempore, La Petite Bande, Sigiswald Kuijken (conductor)
Duet for flute and violin in E minor, H598 Wq140Marc Grauwels (flute), Ulka Gorniak (violin)
Fantasie in E flat major, H277 Wq58/6Sivan Magen (harp)
Fantasie in F sharp minor, H300 Wq67Danny Driver (piano)
Flute Concerto in A major, H438 Wq168Rachel Brown (flute), The Brandenburg Consort, Roy Goodman (conductor)
Flute Concerto in D minor, H425 Wq22Rachel Brown (flute), The Brandenburg Consort, Roy Goodman (conductor)
Flute Concerto in D minor, H426 Wq22Marc Grauwels (flute), L'orchestre de chambre dall'arco, Budapest, Jack Martin Händler (conductor)
Flute Concerto in G major, H445 Wq169Rachel Brown (flute), The Brandenburg Consort, Roy Goodman (conductor)
Orchester-Sinfonie in D major, H663Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen (conductor)
Rondo in D minor, H290 Wq61/4Danny Driver (piano)
Sinfonia a tre voci in D major, H585The Purcell Quartet
Sonata for flute and continuo in E minor, H551 Wq124Marc Grauwels (flute), Guy Penson (harpsichord), Jan Sciffer (cello)
Sonata for flute and continuo in G major, H564 Wq133Marc Grauwels (flute), Guy Penson (harpsichord), Jan Sciffer (cello)
Sonata in A flat major, H31Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
Sonata in A major, H135 Wq65/32Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in A major, H29 Wq48/6Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in A minor, H30Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
Sonata in B flat major, H25 Wq48/2Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in B flat major, H32Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
Sonata in B minor, H36Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
Sonata in C minor, H121 Wq65/31Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in C minor, H27 Wq48/4Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in E flat major, H34Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
Sonata in E flat major, H50 Wq52/1Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in E major, H39 Wq62/5Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in E minor, H33Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
Sonata in F sharp minor, H37 Wq52/4Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata in G minor, H47 Wq65/17Danny Driver (piano)
Sonata per il flauto solo senza basso in A minor, H562 Wq132Marc Grauwels (flute)
Trio Sonata in B flat major, H584 Wq158The Purcell Quartet
Trio Sonata in C minor 'Sanguineus and Melancholicus', H579 Wq161/1The Purcell Quartet
Viola da gamba Sonata in D major, H559 Wq137Richard Boothby (viola da gamba), Robert Woolley (harpsichord)
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750))
Sonata in G minor, BWV1020Lisa Beznosiuk (flute), Paul Nicholson (harpsichord/virginals)
Sonata in G minor, BWV1020Andrea Oliva (flute), Angela Hewitt (piano)

Alphabetical listing of all musical works

12 Variationen über die Folie d'Espagne, H263 Wq118/9 (Bach)
Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, H777 (Bach)
Duet for flute and violin in E minor, H598 Wq140 (Bach)
Fantasie in E flat major, H277 Wq58/6 (Bach/Magen)
Fantasie in F sharp minor, H300 Wq67 (Bach)
Flute Concerto in A major, H438 Wq168 (Bach)
Flute Concerto in D minor, H425 Wq22 (Bach)
Flute Concerto in D minor, H426 Wq22 (Bach)
Flute Concerto in G major, H445 Wq169 (Bach)
Orchester-Sinfonie in D major, H663 (Bach)
Rondo in D minor, H290 Wq61/4 (Bach)
Sinfonia a tre voci in D major, H585 (Bach)
Sonata for flute and continuo in E minor, H551 Wq124 (Bach)
Sonata for flute and continuo in G major, H564 Wq133 (Bach)
Sonata in A flat major, H31 (Bach)
Sonata in A major, H135 Wq65/32 (Bach)
Sonata in A major, H29 Wq48/6 (Bach)
Sonata in A minor, H30 (Bach)
Sonata in B flat major, H25 Wq48/2 (Bach)
Sonata in B flat major, H32 (Bach)
Sonata in B minor, H36 (Bach)
Sonata in C minor, H121 Wq65/31 (Bach)
Sonata in C minor, H27 Wq48/4 (Bach)
Sonata in E flat major, H34 (Bach)
Sonata in E flat major, H50 Wq52/1 (Bach)
Sonata in E major, H39 Wq62/5 (Bach)
Sonata in E minor, H33 (Bach)
Sonata in F sharp minor, H37 Wq52/4 (Bach)
Sonata in G minor, BWV1020 (Bach/Bach)
Sonata in G minor, H47 Wq65/17 (Bach)
Sonata in G minor, H47 Wq65/17 (Bach/Pienaar)
Sonata per il flauto solo senza basso in A minor, H562 Wq132 (Bach)
Trio Sonata in B flat major, H584 Wq158 (Bach)
Trio Sonata in C minor 'Sanguineus and Melancholicus', H579 Wq161/1 (Bach)
Viola da gamba Sonata in D major, H559 Wq137 (Bach)