CPE BACH Rondos and Fantasias
Although Christine Schornsheim has recorded sound and stylish JS Bach interpretations, she truly lets loose with his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. Her keyboard of choice is an 1801 ‘Tangentenflügel’ that purports to fuse the best that the clavichord, harpsichord and fortepiano have to offer in regard to timbre and dynamics. It may not be an instrument of which the composer had first-hand knowledge, yet it perfectly lends itself to his imaginative and volatile idiom.
Schornsheim gives dramatic and colourful shape to the opening E flat Fantasia’s cresting arpeggiations and spices up the melodic whimsy in the B flat major and C minor Rondos with split-second pauses between certain phrases. She heightens the contrast between the C major Rondo’s phrases that alternate between a deadpan repeated middle C and more decorative high-register writing. Her agogic distensions in the A minor Rondo help to illuminate the music’s unexpected twists of melody and harmony. The use of a ‘harp’ pedal adds a haunting, disembodied timbral dimension to the E major Rondo Wq58/3’s long legato lines, as well as a woodwind-like patina to the G major Rondo’s seemingly childlike tunes. Discreet yet noticeable pedal effects underline the F major Fantasia’s unpredictable cadences and ear-catching dissonant nuggets. Perhaps the other E major Rondo (Wq57/1) best showcases Schornsheim’s ingenuous sense of timing, as the music wanders through as many moods as changes of key.
A booklet interview with Schornsheim reveals her to be just as intelligent, insightful and witty away from the keyboard, while the superb engineering creates a warm and resonant ambience that makes the instrument come alive. In short, this is one of the CPE Bach anniversary year’s more delectable offerings.