Music from the Bach family is a perfect way to start a day. Actually to start any day. On a sunny summer morning listening for example to Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach’s Cello Concerto in A minor (Wq. 170) fills me with joy and enthusiasm and a strong desire to praise mankind’s inventiveness, it’s ability to create Beauty, its incredible power to fill others with happiness. What a gift from Johann Sebastian Bach’s son! What a generosity!
I remember that early spring walk a year or two ago. It was warm already, and we wandered as a family along the rocks that bordert the western side of the Mosella valley. The rocks trap and reflect the sunlight; the warmth they radiate and the minerals in the soil contribute to a substantial degree to the excellence of Luxembourg’s white wines. On the small path I encountered this inconspicious plant, Sanguisorba minor, than can be used as aromatic plant in a salad for instance. It was as nondescript as Carl Friedrich Abel’s Viola da Gamba Sonata No. 10 in E minor (WK 150) hidden on a recording by Rebeka Ruso (viola) and Sebastian Wienand (piano).
The summer is not over yet? If that is so, let’s celebrate one more sunny day with one of the most beautiful double-concertos I know of. Sparks of joy, energy and vitality mark this piece, which had to be considered avant-garde at the time of its composition. In the year 1740, the Baroque era was drawing to its end and composers in the wake of Johann Sebastian Bach were bridging the gap to the Vienna classics era. One of these composers was Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Just like the keyboard concerto I have presented in an earlier post in July, today’s piece foreshadows the modern concertos that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven would write several decades later.
Stepping out of the shadow of a famous father is always a challenge. Especially if that father is Johann Sebastian Bach. But it can be done. Better, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach stepped out of his father’s shadow without betraying his heritage and, much to his family’s glory and satisfaction, his music quickly evolved from the Baroque forms he had learned from his father to what was the fashion of the day at the Prussian court in Berlin or in Hamburg, where he would take up the post of Georg Philipp Telemann after the latter’s death.