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Three instruments perfectly balanced … a great success

CLASSICA, Marc Vignal *****

In the œuvre of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the name “trio” indicates not the number of instruments, which can vary from two to four, but the number of voices. Thirteen of his works are keyboard trios in the modern sense, but he called them “Sonatas for keyboard (harpsichord or fortepiano) accompanied by violin and cello”. Six (Wq. 89) were published by Brenner in London in 1776, three (Wq. 90) then four (Wq. 91) in Leipzig, at the composer’s expense, in 1776 and 1777 respectively. This is the first time the whole collection of these thirteen sonatas has appeared on disc, presented as “piano trios”. A modern piano has been used, with a timbre that is very clear but able to remain discreet:

three instruments perfectly balanced.

The six Trios Wq. 89 (CD 1) are fairly intimate in character, while the other seven (CD 2) are more passionate and jerky, but even then the ensemble remains homogenous. The Trio in C Wq. 91/4 is the only one not to have three movements: it is an Arioso consisting of a theme and nine variations, of which there is also a version for solo keyboard (Wq. 118/10). The trios (sonatas) are not arranged in the order intended by the composer (for Wq. 90 and 91 in any case), but this order has its logic, particularly in terms of tonality. A great success, which takes its place alongside the six Trios played on period instruments, including a fortepiano, by Trio 1790 (CPO, 1993).

Translated from French.

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