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Hyperion Records

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The Waterfall at Tivoli (1785) by Jacob-Philippe Hackert (1737-1807)
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67908
Recording details: January 2012
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by John Fraser
Engineered by Arne Akselberg
Release date: November 2012
Total duration: 16 minutes 32 seconds

'Driver revels in CPE Bach's idiosyncrasies, underlining the spontaneous and edgier qualities in the composer's Empfindsamer stil… an unusual and fascinating programme' (BBC Music Magazine)

'CPE Bach is the perfect embodiment of the rebellious son. His keyboard sonatas sparkle with the brilliant counterpoint learned from his father Johann Sebastian but are punctuated with passages that are decidedly his own … thrillingly played by Danny Driver … immensely rewarding listening' (The Observer)

'In this sequel to his first disc of CPE Bach Keyboard Sonatas (CDA67786), Danny Driver is intimately in touch with the fluctuations of the musical language. The E major sonata shows Bach exploiting sharp contrasts between loud and soft, aspects that Driver points up in a way that underlines the music’s energy and momentum. His feel for the harmonic explorations in the slow movement and the rhythmic mischievousness of the finale likewise echoes the music’s spirit … Driver plays with an imagination and subtlety fully equal to Bach’s own' (The Daily Telegraph)

'As with most keyboard music of the eighteenth century, in the hands of a sympathetic player the essence can be fully conveyed by means of the modern concert grand piano … Driver's musicianship here is exemplary—not only possessing a technique second to none but also a comprehensive grasp which gets to the heart of this by no means straightforward music … Driver is superb at striking exactly the right tone for this music, laying it out before us with clarity yet also subtly underpinning the slyly expressive nature of the music … the recording is consistently in accord with Hyperion's best quality and the booklet notes by Leta Miller are a model of informed scholarship' (International Record Review)

'Driver's approach is impressive in many ways. Every keystroke is perfectly sprung, with fast, detached playing sounding pristine but never clipped. The three voices in the slow movement from the Sonata in F sharp minor, Wq 52/4 are impeccably balanced, their transparency provoking a closeness of listening that creates deep engagement. The disc's fabulous engineering brings the piano up close with an attractive liveliness' (International Piano)

Sonata in F sharp minor, H37 Wq52/4

Allegro  [7'16]
Poco andante  [4'40]
Allegro assai  [4'36]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonata in F sharp minor H37 (Wq52/4) dates from 1744. The most remarkable movement is the opening Allegro, built on a contrast between fantasia and lyric passages. The movement opens with rapid passagework in semiquaver triplets. After the first four bars, which are grounded by irregularly spaced accented notes in the bass, Bach confuses the rhythm through metric displacement of the lowest notes within rising scalic or arpeggiated passages. Rather than reinforcing the beat, these low notes are often placed on the second semiquaver of a triplet. The result is rhythmic instability, resolved only by the ultimate arrival on a long note at the end of the phrase. Bach follows this fanciful opening with a contrasting galant theme accompanied by steady repeated quavers. Although the movement as a whole is in a standard rounded binary form, within each section the fantasia and lyrical elements alternate, sometimes in short fragmentary phrases.

In comparison to this unusual opening movement, the following Poco andante, in D major, is a study in restrained elegance. Here Bach evokes a trio sonata, with two treble voices in imitative texture set over a steady bass in quavers. The finale is again in binary form featuring dotted rhythms and occasional sudden rests setting off dramatic harmonic progressions. In one case, the rest lasts for an entire bar, placing in relief a diminished third in the bass, soon followed by still another silence preceding a diminished triad. More restrained than some of his other early finales, this movement balances continuity with rhetorical irregularities.

from notes by Leta Miller © 2012
University of California, Santa Cruz

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