C.P.E. Bach: Mercurial Diversions For Uncertain Times : Deceptive Cadence In a new album of keyboard concertos, hear how J.S. Bach's son charted his own startling and original path in music that sparkles with unpredictability
NPR logo

C.P.E. Bach: Mercurial Diversions For Uncertain Times

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/840319480/854115463" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
C.P.E. Bach: Mercurial Diversions For Uncertain Times

C.P.E. Bach: Mercurial Diversions For Uncertain Times

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/840319480/854115463" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In these days of uncertainty, just the right music can create a safe haven, an escape or even a boost of energy. NPR's Tom Huizenga has found all of that in a new recording of the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL RISCHE'S PERFORMANCE OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH'S "PIANO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR (WQ 11)")

TOM HUIZENGA, BYLINE: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the second oldest of Johann Sebastian's musical sons, and he was incapable, it seems, of writing a dull piece of music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL RISCHE'S PERFORMANCE OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH'S "PIANO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR (WQ 11)")

HUIZENGA: A new album of C.P.E. Bach's keyboard concertos is keeping my spirits buoyant these homebound days. Michael Rische, leading Berlin Baroque Soloist, performs the music on a modern piano with equal parts elegance and exuberance. And if you're new to C.P.E. Bach, this is a great starter kit. He was born in 1714, educated by his dad, then spent nearly 30 years in Berlin as the harpsichordist to Frederick the Great before decamping to Hamburg. As a composer, he developed his own startling original style. He zigs and zags and suddenly slams on the brakes or here in this E minor concerto, interrupts the piano with outbursts of strings.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL RISCHE'S PERFORMANCE OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH'S "PIANO CONCERTO IN E MINOR (WQ 24)")

HUIZENGA: C.P.E. Bach's music is restless and quirky, perhaps in rebellion to his father, whom he considered old-fashioned. C.P.E. is often thought of as a bridge from the baroque style to the new age of Mozart and Beethoven, but I think he also foreshadows the freewheeling romantics. Just listen to the way the piano, pleasantly skipping along in this C minor concerto, hits a brick wall then gets a blast of orchestral dissonance before the music pivots to a completely new thought.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL RISCHE'S PERFORMANCE OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH'S "PIANO CONCERTO IN C MINOR (WQ 43:4)")

HUIZENGA: Not everything in these concertos flies by with whiplash abandon. C.P.E.'s slow movements are elegant and languid and can sound like improvisations.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL RISCHE'S PERFORMANCE OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH'S "PIANO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR (WQ 11)")

HUIZENGA: There's a spontaneity in these concertos that gives them a personal feel, as if you can hear the gears churning in a singular musical mind. It's that sense of the unexpected, even in these uncertain times, that makes C.P.E. Bach's music a welcome diversion.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL RISCHE'S PERFORMANCE OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH'S "PIANO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR (WQ 11)")

CHANG: The album is "Keyboard Concertos" (ph) by C.P.E. Bach performed by Michael Rische and Berlin Baroque Soloists. That was NPR's Tom Huizenga.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL RISCHE'S PERFORMANCE OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH'S "PIANO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR (WQ 11)")

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.