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Bach, C.P.E. : Württemberg Sonata n°3 Wq 49
Wim Winters, Clavichord
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Sonata n°3 “Württemberg” in E Minor, Wq 49/3, played on my Saxon Clavichord.
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach composed his six “Württemberg” sonatas between 1742 and 1744 in Berlin and Töplitz (Teplice).They were published in Nuremberg by the lutenist and printer Johann Ulrich Haffner. So we are still in the time where father Bach (J.S.Bach) just finished his Art of Fugue! Learned counterpoint and gallant style within the same family within the same time span!
But hey! Does the first print not have as a title “Sei sonate per cembalo”? And still you’re playing them on clavichord? Why is that?
Yes, but cembalo is not to be translated into harpsichord. And before some of my dear friends would turn red in their face, no, I’m not writing here you can’t play them on a harpsichord, only that the term cembalo used in “Germany” in that time simply is what they considered to be the Italian translation of Klavier. As often “Clavessin” is used to use the more fashionable French term for Klavier.
I’m aware that would change quite something in regard to our view on keyboard usage and practice. You’re right, this should be researched much deeper. Joris Potvlieghe mentioned in his recent article on Bach & the clavichord some of the music that was printed in several languages, even more direct connecting clavichord to “cembalo”. But years ago Steve Barell has published an article (of which I only find a summary…) that -how surprising- was laughed away so hard that Steve left the 18th century and focuses only on early 19th century as he wrote me in a mail. He even does not have the original English version of his article anymore.
So also I need more research, and let this just stimulate your own thoughts to dive deeper into this. Because it makes sense.
Just take these Württemberg sonatas. C.P.E.Bach writes to Forkel in 1775 that he composed these works at a clavichord. That is just one hint, not an important one perhaps, but significant enough. The clavichord would also be used as composition instrument by later musicians as Mozart and Beethoven. But the music itself contains dynamic indications, rather avant-garde for keyboard music at that time, asking ff, f, p and pp from the player. There is no translation for this to the harpsichord. Only the clavichord was and is able to give those nuances.
Interesting also, to close this description. When we go much later, and read for instance Rieman’s Musik-Lexicon (I have the 4th edition here from 1894). There he writes:
Cembalo (Ital., spr. tsch.) f. Klavier
Clavecin (franz., spr. pronunciation) Clavicembalo, Clavichord, f. Klavier)
So there might be a little bit of truth in whatSteve Barell was writing somewhere early 1990ties!
Anyway, hope you enjoy the music, it is brilliant, and for sure I will revisit this piece and the others later.