The London Baroque
|Irmgard Schaller, Violin
Richard Gwilt, Violin
Charles Medlam, Violoncello
Terence Charlston, Harpsichord
LONDON BAROQUE: BACH AND SONS
Trio Sonata in C (after organ sonata) BWV
J. S. Bach
Fantasia for harpsichord solo F.19
W. F. Bach
Tro Sonata in B-Flat H.584
C. P. E. Bach
Sonata in G for cello and continuo
J. C. F. Bach
Duet in G for 2 Violins
J. C. Bach
Concerto in D Major for harpsichord and
J. C. Bach (arr. Mozart)
The Bach family is perhaps the best known musical family of
all time, its members spanning many generations. In this program,
we sample the music from two generations: J.S. Bach himself, the
pivotal and best-known representative, and his four musical sons
Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, Johann Christian
and Johann Christoph Friedrich.
Wilhelm Friedemann was Johann Sebastian's eldest, and possibly
favorite son. He was born in 1710, and showed early promise as a
musician. He became one of the best organists of his day and is
sometimes known as the Halle Bach as he was employed
as organist at Halle's Liebfrauenkirche for nearly twenty years.
Carl Philipp Emanuel, Bach's second surviving son of his first
marriage, also showed a great talent for music from an early age.
He was born in 1714 and went on to become an expert keyboard
player. He was employed as harpsichordist to the music-loving
Frederick the Great for some twenty-seven years before taking up
the post of director of church music in Hamburg in 1768. Johann
Christoph Friedrich Bach, born in Leipzig in 1732, was the eldest
surviving son of Johann Sebastian and his second wife, Anna
Magdalena. Taught music by his father, he matriculated at Leipzig
University to study law, but when Johann Sebastian became ill in
1750, he gave up his student career to accept a position of
chamber musician to Count Wilhelm of Schaumburg-Lippe in the town
of Bückeburg. He remained here for the rest of his life,
becoming known as the Bückeburg Bach. Johann
Christian, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian, was born in
Leipzig in 1735. When his father died 15 years later, he moved to
Berlin to study with his older brother, Carl Philipp Emanuel. He
subsequently traveled to Italy and in 1762 visited London, where
he stayed for the rest of his life, becoming known as the
London Bach. When the eight-year old Mozart visited
London in 1764, J.C. Bach was greatly impressed by his prodigious
talent and enjoyed improvising at the keyboard with him.
J.S. Bach Trio Sonata in C (after organ sonata) BWV 529
1685-1750 Allegro - Largo - Allegro
The date of origin of the six organ trio sonatas cannot be
ascribed with any certainty. It is likely that Bach wrote
them at the beginning of his Leipzig years for his then
thirteen year old son, Wilhelm Friedemann. They are virtuoso
showpieces, the two treble parts being played by the hands,
the bass part on the pedals. Bach himself was no stranger to
the practice of arranging his and other's music, and we have
followed his lead by arranging the fifth of the six organ
trios for the standard baroque trio-sonata instrumentation of
two violins with continuo provided by cello and harpsichord.
W.F. Bach Fantasia for harpsichord solo F.19
Of the four Bach sons, Wilhelm Friedemann seems to have
been the least interested in reconciling his training under
his father with the newer styles, vacillating throughout his
career (and often within a single work) between the old and
the new. This Fantasia alternates three types of musical idea
fast triplet passage-work in duple time, a triple-time
Grave reminiscent of the French overture style, and
two fugal sections. It was probably written around 1770 when
he left Halle and became increasingly active as a keyboard
C.P.E. Bach Trio sonata in B-flat for two violins and b.c.
1714-1788 Allegretto - Largo - Allegro
Since his long-time employer, Frederick the Great, was a
keen flautist, it is hardly surprising that most of Carl
Philipp's early trios are written for flute and violin with
continuo. However, later in his career he turned to the
two-violin combination for which he wrote nine trio sonatas.
This one, in B flat, was written around 1754, and published
in Musikalisches Mancherley in 1763.
J.C.F. Bach Sonata in G for cello and b.c.
1732-1795 Allegro - Rondeaux
Johann Christoph Friedrich wrote three sonatas for cello
and continuo, of which one is lost, and one for cello and
obbligato keyboard, which survives only in a transposed and
heavily edited 20th century version. The exact dates of none
of the sonatas are known. They are all elegant works, clearly
showing the influence of the new "classical" style
of Mozart and Haydn.
J.C. Bach Duet in G for two violins senza basso
1735-1782 Andante - Allegro - Allegro assai
Johann Christian's six duets for two violins were
published in London around 1775. They are truly galant
pieces, showing, like the music of his older brother J.C.F.,
the influence of the new classical style. The writing is
virtuosic, full of special effects such as string-crossing,
double-stopping, bariolage and open string pedals, not
omitting, in the first movement, the more cantabile
possibilities of the violin.
J.C. Bach/Mozart Concerto in D major for harpsichord and
strings K 107/1
Allegro - Andante/Adagio - Tempo di Minuetto
In around 1772, before composing his first original
keyboard concerto, Mozart made several arrangements of
keyboard sonatas by various other composers by giving them an
accompaniment of two violins and continuo. Three of these
concertos were based on sonatas by J.C. Bach. This concerto
in D major is an arrangement of J.C. Bachs
three-movement sonata Op. 5 no. 2.
London Baroque was formed in 1978 and is now regarded
worldwide as one of the foremost exponents of baroque chamber
music, enabling its members to devote their professional lives to
the group. A regular fifty or so performances a year has given
the group a cohesion and professionalism akin to that of a
permanent string quartet.
Their repertoire spans a period from the end of the sixteenth
century up to Mozart and Haydn with works of virtually unknown
composers next to familiar masterpieces of the baroque and early
classical eras. London Baroque also expands to larger forces in
order to tackle the chamber orchestra repertoire and works
involving a consort of singers.
There is hardly an important. venue or festival where they
have not appeared and are regular visitors at the Salzburg, Bath,
Beaune, Innsbruck, Utrecht and Stuttgart festivals.
They have toured the US in 1985 (twice), 1987,1989,1992 and
1994 and are regular visitors to Japan.
London Baroque records for Harmonia Mundi, France. Recent
releases of Lawes and CPE
Bach have received great critical acclaim... "as usual
they bring to the music a rich and colorful sound... ...no praise
can be too high for the sensitive and deeply expressive
assumption of the solo violin..." Their extensive
discography covers much of the major baroque repertoire - and
more besides. Future plans include the trio sonatas of Leclair
and Handel serenatas with singers.
- FINANCIAL TIMES, LONDON
- The performances were
immaculately controlled, at all times a delight to
the ear - supple, flexible playing which touched the
heights of virtuosity and the depths of emotion.
- LONDON EARLY MUSIC NEWS
- There was an electricity
charging their well-varied programme and stimulating
us anew. Foremost of their attributes was a technical
security which allowed them such flamboyance in the
- LOS ANGELES TIMES
- "a combination of
polish and verve . . . wickedly wonderful
- THE PLAIN DEALER (CLEVELAND)
- London Baroque seems born
to the baroque. They simply presented the wonderful
old music with such understanding and immediacy that
each composition sounded as if it has been written
yesterday - the audience was thrilled.
- SEATTLE POST - INTELLIGENCER
- London Baroque plays with a
sensitivity of phrase, a warmth of sonority, a
projection of solo lines, a rhythmic vitality,
exuberance and excitement . . . Throughout the
evening the audience sat in rapt attention, not only
for the variety but also for the exquisite
music-making . . . London Baroque is one of the
finest baroque ensembles performing today.
- VIENNA (DIE PRESSE)
- London Baroque are now at
the pinnacle of their field, and rightly so with
their breathtaking brilliance and intonation, finely
worked-out tone colours and technical perfection.
- One seldom hears a concert
that presents such undisturbed joy in early music.
- No compact disc could
possibly have captured the force and rhetoric of this
vital music. We hope to see these artists next year
- The highest level of
execution, beauty of sound, perfect intonation and
stylistic approach. The result was a combination of
verve and credibility seldom found. We do not
hesitate to name these four young musicians the best
specialists in their field.
Copyright 1996-9 by Houston Early Music
P.O. Box 271193 | Houston TX 77277-1193 | Phone 713-432-1744