Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1784)
Fantasia in D minor (Falck 19) [5:28]
Fugue in D minor [1:35]
Fantasia in E minor (Fk 20) [3:44]
Fugue in E minor [3:01]
Fugue in C minor [1:42]
Sonata in D Major (Fk 3) [19:52]
Sonata in E flat Major (Fk 5) [10:18]
Sonata in C Major (Fk 2) [9:48]
Fantasia in A minor (Fk 23) [3:21]
Anthony Spiri (piano)
rec. Kammermusikstudio, Stuttgart SWR, 2004/11.
OEHMS CLASSICS OC431 [58:58]

The music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, the favourite, if not the most gifted of J.S. Bach’s sons, has not fared as well as that of his brother C.P.E, and one can understand why. Whilst it is accomplished music, it lacks the imagination and brilliance of his younger brother. That being said, I do have a number of recordings of his music, including that for keyboard.

This is something of a strange partial re-release, it originally appeared in 2007 (OC 569) but was then found to contain works which, although attributed to W.F., were actually by Johann Wilhelm Hler (1747-1822). So rather than record a complete new disc, Ohms have recorded two half discs of new music which they will be combining with music from the earlier recording to produce this present disc of music by W.F., as well as a disc which will shortly be issued, of music by Hler. Both are to be released at mid-price. You can still obtain the original disc with its wrongly attributed pieces from various retailers.

This is my third disc of keyboard music; my first was the wonderful disc of Fugues and Sonatas by the excellent young harpsichordist, Ewald Demeyere (Accent ACC 23157), I followed this with the highly praised disc of the 12 Polonaises, Sonata in D (Fk 3) and the Fantasia in A minor (Fk 23), performed by Robert Hill on a copy of an early fortepiano (Naxos 8.557966). This present disc doesn’t quite make the grade. For me the music presented sounds a bit ponderous on the piano. The instrument is just too heavy and this is not helped by the relatively slow tempos adopted by Spiri. I much prefer Hill’s recording of the two works shared with this disc. He has an ability to breathe life into this music and whilst his slow movement of the D Major is over half a minute slower than Spiri’s it doesn’t feel it, rather his lighter and airier style enables him to give a more nuanced performance. That being said, if you do not like the sound of the fortepiano, and there are plenty who don’t, this could well be the disc for you. It is recorded well, with only slight reverberation, though not enough to detract from the performance. The accompanying booklet notes by Anthony Spiri himself, are excellent. They are detailed and informative although it would have been nice to have the Falck (Fk) numbers or dates of all the works presented.

Stuart Sillitoe

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