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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: 15 minutes 49 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 E major, H39 Wq62/5

Allegro  [6'02]
Andantino  [4'45]
Vivace di molto  [5'02]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The first movement of the Sonata in E major H39 is in rounded binary form (ABA’). Sudden contrasts between forte and piano, often bracketed by rests, form an essential thematic component of the movement. Although one can certainly realize these contrasts on a two-manual harpsichord (with the forte sections played on coupled keyboards and the piano sections using only a single keyboard), it is also possible that Bach envisioned this sonata for the fortepiano. During the 1740s Frederick commissioned several pianos from builder Gottfried Silbermann; we know that J S Bach tried one when he visited his son at Frederick’s court in 1747. This movement, like the opening one of H37, contains two rhythmically contrasting motifs, but in this case the contrast comes in the form of a brief, dramatic interruption right before the end of each of the A, B and A’ sections. In these places, the rhythm slows dramatically and the dynamic drops to piano. All three subsections also feature passages with large forte chords that suggest the music of Domenico Scarlatti.

H39’s slow movement, in the tonic minor, comprises two sections, nearly identical in length. It begins like a simple air, but with characteristic harmonic surprises. As in the opening movement, Bach here indulges in dramatic interjections at the end of each half—in this case consisting of dotted figures, played fortissimo, that suggest the accompanied recitatives of Baroque opera. In this movement, as in many others, the interjections could conceivably be removed entirely, creating a more continuous series of symmetrical phrases, but this would rob the piece of its most dramatic moments.

H39 ends with a Vivace di molto movement in 3/4 metre. At the time Vivace indicated a slower tempo than Allegro and Bach frequently chose to end his sonatas with galant movements in moderate tempi. Finales marked Cantabile, Vivace, Allegretto, Andantino, or Minuetto occur in more than forty of his keyboard sonatas, spread throughout his career, as well as in ten sonatas for flute, oboe, or viola da gamba from the 1730s and 1740s. Most of these movements are in triple metre and even those not specifically designated as ‘minuets’ often make reference to this prevalent dance form. H39’s finale opens with a rhythmic figure found frequently in Bach’s Vivace finales (dotted quaver and two demisemiquavers, followed by a minim). Any link to the minuet, however, soon proves illusory as heavy chords, surprising harmonic progressions, and rhythmic interruptions create an ironic parody of the old aristocratic dance. As in the opening movement, Bach inserts a slower section near the end of each half of the movement.

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

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