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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: 11 minutes 40 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)

Fantasie in F sharp minor, H300 Wq67

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The free Fantasie in F sharp minor H300 (Wq67) was composed only a year before Bach’s death. The composer was renowned for his extemporizations at the keyboard, often favouring for them the very soft but expressive clavichord. The English music historian Charles Burney visited Bach in Hamburg in the early 1770s and penned a famous portrait of the composer improvising fantasies at the clavichord for several hours after dinner. ‘He played with little intermission, until near 11 o’clock at night’, wrote Burney. ‘During this time, he grew so animated and possessed, that he not only played but looked like one inspired. His eyes were fixed, his under lip fell, and drops of effervescence distilled from his countenance’ (Dr Burney’s Musical Tours in Europe, vol. ii, ed. P A Scholes (London, 1959), p.219). The Fantasie in F sharp minor is one of Bach’s longest works in this genre, but it is typical in containing a series of contrasting sections in different tempos and textures. In the last chapter of his Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, Bach deals specifically with the fantasy as a compositional form. He remarks that an ability to improvise is the most important indicator of a musician’s potential as a composer. ‘A good future in composition can be assuredly predicted for anyone who can improvise’, he wrote (C P E Bach: Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments, translated by William J Mitchell (New York, 1949), p.430). At the same time, however, Bach cautions that free fantasies, though by nature improvisatory, must be built on lucid frameworks. He even provides in his treatise an example of such a fantasy with its skeletal reduction. Such coherence is readily apparent in H300. Three distinctive motivic elements recur throughout the work: an Adagio characterized by a chord in the left hand answered by three repeated notes in the right; an Allegretto section with virtuosic figuration; and a Largo in 12/8 with gently oscillating quavers. This late work, indeed, shows the culmination of Bach’s invention, combining the imagination of his youth with the consummate skill of a senior statesman.

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

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