Liaisons Volume 3 = CPE BACH: Sonata in d, Wq 69; Sonata in E-flat, Wq 65; Fantasia in D, Wq 117; BRITTEN: 5 Waltzes, Op. 3; Holiday Diary, Op. 5; Night-Piece (1963) – Dejan Lazic, piano – Channel Classics multichannel SACD CCS SA 28511, 69:02 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:
This is the third of Dejan Lazic’s “Liaisons” series, one of the best concepts he has come up with and the first two volumes very well received in these pages by Laurence Vittes (in a Scarlatti “vs.” Bartok recital) and not so much by me in a Schumann/Brahms head-to-head .
This one, I am happy to say, gets us back on track with a most interesting comparison of two of CPE Bach’s “Prussian” sonatas, and later ones at that, written during his Berlin period where he served as court harpsichordist to Frederik the Great. Bach’s style was considered new and fresh, intensely emotional and so full of Haydnesque Sturm und Drang that put the idea of feeling and almost vivacious pathos to the front burner of musical expression, the best of the then north-German style. Lazic is all over them, pandering to no one’s preconceived idea of how they should “go” but instead treading his own way and letting all of the pent-up emotional beauties of the pieces take flight.
So what in the world does this have to do with Benjamin Britten’s rarely heard early piano music, you might ask? Actually I am not entirely sure; while the booklet notes indication of both these composers being guiding lights to their respective countries’ musical advancement does contain a grain of truth, and both were cosmopolitan in the advancement of modern ideas related to a very much ingrained traditionalism, hearing the works back-to-back brings out another, perhaps more important connection. Both are linear-oriented composers, and both are obsessed with clean lines, stringent counterpoint, and economy of means when regarding expressivity. You really do hear this on this album even though Britten’s early and half-hearted romantic tendencies are surely not as heartfelt as the concomitant expression of Bach. Ultimately that doesn’t matter though, as Britten was attempting to find his own way into the realm of expression without relying too heavily on previous models, unlike most composers of his early age that were throwing the baby out with the bathwater in order to create not new musical expression, but revamping the very vehicles of that expression.
This is a fascinating album well worth the investment, as all of the music will repay repeated hearing and give no end of pleasure. Channel’s hi-res sound is beautifully presented.
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