Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Complete Keyboard Variations
Arioso with 7 Variations in F major, Wq. 118/4 (H54) [8:21]
Allegretto con variazioni, Wq. 118/5 (H65) [9:43]
Variations in F major on ‘Ich schlief, da träumte mir’, Wq118/1 (H69) [23:30]
Twelve Variationen über die Folie d'Espagne, Wq118/9/H263 [9:16]
Arioso con variazioni, Wq. 79 (H535) [[10:43]
Canzonetta (by Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Gotha) with 6 variations, Wq. 118/8 (H275) [5:30]
Minuet with 5 Variations in C major, Wq. 118/3 (H44) [6:25]
Arioso con variazioni, Wq. 118 (H259) [17:03]
Minuet with 18 Variations in G major, Wq. 118/7 (H14) [23:11]
Variations on an Arietta in A major, Wq118/2 (H155) [19:04]
Romance avec 12 Variations in G major, Wq. 118/6 (H226) [11:59]
Andrea Coen (pianoforte be Kerstin Schwarz, after G. Silberman, 1749)
rec. Teatro Comunale di Montecarotto, Italy, 21-24 March 2015.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95305 [74:17 + 72:04]

Despite the C.P.E. Bach fest that surrounded the tercentenary of his birth being long over we are still seeing a wealth of new and most welcome recordings. This new recording is no exception, and long may they keep appearing.

Anyone who has been collecting Miklós Spányi’s comprehensive survey of the complete keyboard works on Bis will appreciate just what a wealth of excellent music this the most gifted of all of J.S. Bach’s sons composed. The problem with the Spányi is that works such as these only appear as a filler to a themed disc. If you are lucky you might get the odd set of variations every now and again rather than a disc dedicated solely to them as presented here. Where Spányi does score highly is in his choice of instruments. You tend to get a feel, not only for the development of the art form, but also for how this development was driven by the improvements made in instrument manufacture of the period.

Andrea Coen is a name new to me, but on this showing he is a man of great skill and interpretive ability. He beautifully phrases passages to get the best out of this music. His mastery of control is Les Folies D’Espagne Wq118/9 (H263), which was new to me, is wonderful. He weaves through the theme and each of the twelve variations effortlessly drawing out every nuance of the music. Similarly with the Minuet in G Wq118/7 (H14) by Pietro Locatelli, here Bach takes the theme from the final movement of Locatelli’s Sonata Op. 2 No. 10 and adds a myriad of colour in a series of twenty-one variations. Here Coen once again shows his ability to show the full depth of musical colour of these short pieces. Indeed Coen makes this set one of real interest and one which I didn’t tire of. I found it easy to listen through both discs in one sitting without losing interest in the music or the performance. Coen’s choice of instrument has a lot to do with this, a copy of a 1749 instrument by Silbermann which gives just the right depth to the music without being as overpowering as some later pianos would be.

The recorded sound is excellent, as are the booklet notes. This is a set of real interest and appeal - a must for all devotees of C.P.E. Bach’s wonderful music; all the better for presenting the complete variations in a single 2 CD set.

Stuart Sillitoe

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