Harpsichord Gems, vol.1. J.C.Bach. Clavier Sonatas (2004)

Bach

Olga Martynova

Supposedly Johann Sebastian Bach was a strict father who used a quotation from the poet Gellert to describe his youngest offspring: ‘He will go far guided by his stupidity!’ Even if the story is true, the elder Bach was undoubtedly speaking in jest: his youngest son was his favourite. And he certainly did go far. Incidentally, he lost his father when he was only 15, and few people have learned wisdom by that age.
His father gave Johann Christian his first music lessons and probably created the second volume of ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ for him. This means that for both father and son their art began with the keyboards (when still a child Johann Christian could play the clavichord, harpsichord and organ; later he also grew fond of what was then a new, expensive and rare instrument – the pianoforte). Johann Christian’s early pieces were also for clavier: the young composer wrote minuets and polonaises for his mother Anna Magdalena’s music notebook, the ‘Clavier- Bu?chlein’. He was probably excited to inherit three harpsichords after his father’s death. Perhaps his childhood memories were so strong that no matter what later took his fancy and whatever genres he preferred, Johann Christian continued to write for the clavier for the rest of his life. Some of his works for pianoforte were so popular that in musical instrum instrument shops there was increased demand for this costly novelty. 

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Olga Martynova

Olga Martynova is one of the premier harpsichordists in Russia today. An honours graduate in piano and harpsichord from the Moscow Conservatoire, she decided to devote herself to early music after hearing a recital in France by Hopkinson Smith, the distinguished performer of early plucked instruments. His master classes made a profound impression on her and deeply influenced her understanding of music. Martynova continued her studies in France, graduating from the Ecole Nationale de Musique de Bobigny with a gold medal. She went on to win the Van Wassenaer competition in the Netherlands and the Premio Bonporti in Italy, and has given harpsichord and piano recitals all over Europe. Since 2003 Olga Martynova has performed on historical instruments and toured with the Moscow orchestra Pratum Integrum. Like Pratum Integrum she records exclusively for the Caro Mitis label. Her previous recordings feature selected keyboard sonatas by Johann Christian Bach (CM 0052004), transcriptions of Baroque music for harpsichord (CM 0072004), Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer’s Musicalisches Blumen- Bu?schlein (CM 0012006) and piano pieces of the 19th and 20th centuries arranged for harpsichord (CM 0102006). These recordings have been widely praised (the German magazine Toccata- Alte Musik aktuell voted the album of J.C. Bach sonatas ‘CD of the month’). Olga Martynova also performs with the Moscow Baroque and A La Russe ensembles, and teaches at the Moscow Conservatoire and Gnesin School of Music.

 

 

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Harpsichord Gems, vol.1. J.C.Bach. Clavier Sonatas (2004)

Bach

Olga Martynova

    AllMusic Review: Olga Martynova J.C. Bach: Selected Clavier Sonatas -

The influence of the "London Bach" upon Mozart is often thought to reside in the former's orchestral and operatic works, which Mozart is known to have studied closely. The little keyboard sonatas recorded here, however, were equally influential. The child Mozart turned two of them (plus a third not included here) into piano concertos, and the patterns found in these works continued to hang in Mozart's mind into his maturity. Consider the impressive Keyboard Sonata in C minor, Op. 17/2, composed in 1772 and 1773, whose emotional path closely parallels that of the Mozart Piano Sonata in C minor, K. 457. The other sonatas here are all in two movements rather than three. Yet not only the sunny mood but also the confident three-part structures of the sonata expositions, with first theme, second theme, and closing theme spelling out a large IV-V-I cadence, sound extremely Mozartian in retrospect. These sonatas were written for Bach's powerful student-patrons, with Queen Consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg at the top of the list, and they have a pleasing combination of sophistication and modest technical demands. The earlier set, Opus 5, was the first British publication to specify either harpsichord or piano. A harpsichord was still the primary choice, but the playing of Russian keyboardist Olga Martynova, while impressive in its precision, is a bit too mechanical for the coquettish spirit of the music. The studio sound from the Russian audiophile label Caro Mitis, however, is, if anything, even beyond the imprint's usual high standard, and the album as a whole is about brilliant surfaces over which the listener slides with pleasure. The detailed and engaging booklet notes by Larisa Kirillina, given in Russian, German, and English, are a bonus.

James Manheim[read full review]

    "Musica", ?195, April 2008: «J.C.Bach. Selected Clavier Sonatas», «The Great Transcriptions» -

L’etichetta russa Caro Mitis ha deciso di dedicare una parte del suo catalogo alla clavicembalista Olga Martynova, docente al Conservatorio di Mosca e alla scuola speciale Gnesin. Scelta azzeccata, perche ? la Martynova, figura emergente del sempre piu` affollato panorama della musica barocca, mostra di possedere gusto, eleganza, virtuosismo e fantasia. Delle sonate di Johann Christian Bach riesce a cogliere la malinconica leggerezza, con un fraseggio vivace e mai scontato, a riprova che l’estetica dello stile galante, sempre a rischio di interpretazioni scolastiche, rivela tutto il suo fascino quando alla tastiera sieda un interprete attento a evitare facili simmetrie. Ottima e` anche la qualita` tecnica della registrazione e squillante e pulito il suono dello strumento utilizzato, una copia moderna di un clavicembalo parigino N. & Blanchet del 1730. La stessa eleganza malinconica si ritrova nel fraseggio delle trascrizioni di Silvius Leopold Weiss. E` un fraseggio ora commuovente per l’intensita` espressiva, in particolare nella Allemande e nella Sarabande, ora elettrizzante per la vitalita` ritmica e la vivacita` con la quale sono realizzati gli abbellimenti. Olga Martynova si disimpegna con abilita` anche nella trama contrappuntistica della Trio Sonata di Reincken arrangiata dal giovane Bach, come nelle piu` fragili tessiture dei Pie`ces de Clavecin che il violinista Francesco Geminiani, contemporaneo di Weiss e di Bach, ha ricavato dalle sue Sonate per violino op. 1. Interpretazioni affascinanti per l’equilibrio tra la brillantezza esecutiva e una naturale eleganza, in particolare nei movimenti rapidi. E affascinante e` anche il timbro piuttosto scuro del clavicembalo impiegato per questo secondo CD, uno strumento moderno, di modello francese, costruito dall’americano William Dowd negli anni ’70. L’ultimo CD e` anche il piu` curioso, fin dal titolo che parafrasa un celebre film di Woody Allen (Tutto quanto avreste voluto sapere sul clavicembalo, ma che non avete mai osato chiedere). Con un’operazione inversa a quella abituale Olga Martynova esegue al clavicembalo pagine composte per il pianoforte. I risultati sono singolari, soprattutto nei Preludi e Fughe di Shostakovich, composti per il pianoforte ma nello spirito del clavicembalo, che suonano straniati, non senza – si veda la Fuga in Re maggiore – una sottile ironia. Lasciano piu` perplessi le trascrizioni delle pagine di Schubert e di Schumann, non tanto per l’interpretazione della Martynova, assolutamente plausibile, quanto per i limiti di sonorita` dello strumento. Sorprendono, invece, gli Studi pianistici di Cramer che al clavicembalo lasciano trasparire con estrema chiarezza la loro tessitura polifonica e quasi finiscono per essere piu` stimolanti in questa insolita e bizzarra veste: in particolare lo Studio in Fa minore si trasforma sotto le mani della Martynova in un gioiello di eleganza e di brio. Molto interessanti, infine, le miniature tratte dall’Album per la gioventu` di Khachaturian, perche? queste paginette stilizzate dal sapore popolare fanno sembrare il clavicembalo uno strumento moderno e non un retaggio del passato, quasi evocando sonorita` – e` questo il paradosso – da musica elettronica.

Luca Segalla

    Opus Haute Définition: J. C. Bach Sonates pour Clavier

Ce Super Audio CD nous invite à entendre une sélection de Sonates pour clavier de Jean Chrétien Bach. Trois Sonates de l’opus 5 dont le musicologue Karl Geiringer disait qu’elles : « respirent cette douceur d’expression, cette chaleur sensitive de mélodie qui fascinaient Mozart enfant ». Et trois Sonates de l’opus 17. Il est bon d’ajouter également que « l’influence de Jean-Chrétien Bach sur la personnalité musicale de Mozart est tout à fait évidente. Si le premier n’a pas le génie du second, il y a cependant chez eux de grandes analogies. On retrouve dans leur musique la même invention mélodique, la même grâce, le même raffinement, le même chant élégant », comme le souligne un ouvrage sur la question. Néanmoins, avec trente sept concertos pour clavier et orchestre, Jean-Chrétien Bach ne s’éternisa guère sur le clavier seul. L’enregistrement qui nous occupe ici, en pur DSD, dans une prise de son admirable, nous livre l’interprétation de la jeune Olga Martynova. Et nous ne pouvons qu’admirer son sens du toucher, la façon dont elle laisse s’épanouir les mélodies, avec toutefois une réserve, sur la souplesse de son jeu et la crispation, parfois, qui accompagne certains phrasés. Mais ne nous y trompons pas, l’essentiel est là, sous les doigts de la jeune artiste et c’est tout ce qui compte.

Jean-Jacques Millo[read full review]

    "Toccata-Alte Musik aktuell", July-August 2005: Russen II

Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782) war der Lieblingssohn des großen Thomaskantors und erst 15 Jahre alt, als Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) starb. Letzterer war auch der erste Lehrmeister Christians gewesen, hatte diesem das Spiel des Clavichords, Cembalos und der Orgel gelehrt. Spater sollte Johann Christian auch noch das brandneue, seltene und teuere Pianoforte kennen und schatzen lernen. Seine ersten kompositorischen Gehversuche machte Johann Christian mit Musik fur das Cembalo: Ins "Clavierbuchlein fur Anna Magdalena Bach" (geb. Wilcken, 1701-1782, seine Mutter) schrieb er Menuette und Polonaisen. Nach dem Tod des Vaters geht Christian zu seinem Bruder Carl Philipp Emanuel nach Berlin in die Ausbildung. Kurze Zeit spater schreibt er bereits funf Cembalokonzerte. Dann geht's ab nach Mailand, wo er vom Protestantismus zum katholischen Glauben ubertritt und Domorganist wird. Zunachst vertieft sich "Giovanni Bacchi" in die Kirchenmusik, widmet sich aber bereits nach kurzer Zeit der Oper, die komplett von ihm Besitz ergreift. Johann Christian Bach hangt den Orgeljob an den Nagel und reist durch Italien, wo er die neuen Opera seria komponiert: "Catone in Utica" oder "Alessandro nell'lndie". Der gefallsuchtige Bachsohn sonnt sich im vordergrundigen Glanze seiner Popularitat. Nach zehn Jahren Italien ruft jedoch Albion und Bach schmeisst wiederum alles hin. Er fahrt gen Engelland und dort sollte Johann Christian Bach dann nochmals zwanzig Jahre leben. In London ist Bach schnell in die Gesellschaft integriert, seine Freunde sind Thomas Gainsborough und Carl Friedrich Abel. Und er hat die Gunst des Konigs Georg III. und seiner jungen Gattin, der Konigin Charlotte, welche aus Deutschland stammte. Johann Christian wird Hofkomponist und Lehrer der Konigin. Der "Mailander Bach" und "Londoner Bach", wie Johann Christian auch genannt wird, stirbt dann aber in armlichen Umstanden. Am Ende seines Lebens ist er lange krank und wird gnadenlos aus seinen Positionen verdrangt, sein Diener betrugt und bestiehlt ihn um eine sehr große Summe, der Komponist ist faktisch ruiniert. Nach seinem Tod begleicht jedoch Konigin Charlotte die Schulden und zahlt Bachs Witwe Cecilia Grassi, einer ehemaligen Primadonna, eine Rente auf Lebenszeit. Sechs Sonaten fur Cembalo, namlich die Sonata B-Dur op.5 Nr.1, G-Dur op.5 Nr.3 und Es-Dur op.5 Nr.4, sowie die Sonata c-moll op.17 Nr.2, G-Dur op.17 Nr.4 und A-Dur op.17 Nr.5 spielt die russische Cembalistin Olga Martynova fur Caro Mitis ein. Olga Martynova ist eine der bekanntesten Cembalistinnen Russlands. Nach ihrer Ausbildung in modernem Klavier und im Cembalospiel am Moskauer Konservatorium, geriet sie in den Bann der Alten Musik und Historischen Auffuhrungspraxis, nachdem sie ein Konzert von Hopkinson Smith horte. Sie besuchte Meisterkurse bei ihm und studierte an der Ecole Nationale de Musique de Bobigny. Es folgten die ersten Platze bei internationalen Cembalo-Wettbewerben (Wassenaer, Premio Bonporti). Und heute lehrt sie selbst am Moskauer Konservatorium und in der Gnesin Special Musical School bzw. ist Mitglied der Orchester Pratum Integrum, Moscow Baroque und A la Russe. Den etwas selbst verliebten Kompositionen des Londoner Bachs kann sie unglaubliche Finessen entlocken. Unwillkurlich kommt der Gedanke auf, was ware, wenn die kompositorische Vorlage ein noch hoheres Niveau hatte. Ich stelle fest und erklare: Olga Martynova spielt in solch absolut entwaffnender Weise, wie ich hochst selten eine(n) Cembalistin/en habe spielen horen. Das ist allerfeinste Fertigkeit und hochste Kunst! Johann Sebastian Bach's favorite and youngest son Johann Christian is also known as the "Milan" or "London Bach". After his father's death he moved to Berlin where he lived together with his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel. Then he went to Milano where he became the organist of the famous cathedral after he changed from protestantic to catholic church. Soon after that he got in contact with the Italian opera: Johann Christian left job and city of Milano and toured through Italy the next ten years as an opera seria composer. Then he went to London where he lived the next 20 years and died as a poor man (his servant cheated him). The Russian Harpsichordist Olga Martynowa, best known for her interpretations in Russia, plays now six sonatas in a high leveled way as l hear not so often. This is great music from a great musician!

Robert Strobl

    Audiophile Audition Review: Harpsichord Gems, vol.1. J.C.Bach. Selected Clavier Sonatas -

Melodious sonatas in Classic style, similar to Mozart's but with less depth and development This release is Volume 1 of a series on the Russian label titled Harpsichord Gems. It may seem rather odd to see albums of early music coming from such a source, but there is a small group of Russian musicians specializing in this genre, including the Pratum Integrum Orchestra, with which young Martynova often plays. In fact she is one of the premier harpsichordists in Russian today. It was her idea to record some of the clavier sonatas of Johann Christian Bach, and she selected the six presented here. J.C. was J.S.’s favorite of his many sons, and it was for him that the elder Bach created Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier. As a child J.C. was playing the harpsichord, clavichord and organ, and later grew fond of the newly-developed pianoforte. At his father’s death J.C. was only 15, and he inherited three of J.S.’s harpsichords. He moved from Leipzig to Milan where he spent a decade, but he then settled in London, becoming known as The London Bach. He composed for keyboards his entire life, in addition to symphonies, concertos and various chamber works. The child Mozart studied J.C. Bach’s music carefully and the elder composer was drawn to the young genius. The two composers’ music share a similar style, but the gallant approach of Bach’s with clear and strong melodies and light sensuality is in contrast to Mozart’s abilities to develop his themes intensively and creatively. Mozart even arranged the Sonatas 3 &4 from Opus 5 here as concertos for clavier and strings. The sonatas were intended to be performed on any keyboards available at the time, but they neither lean toward the octaves, chords and other devices of early pianoforte music nor are they filled with ornaments as is most Baroque harpsichord and clavichord music. The Sonata No. 2 from Opus 17 is unique in having all three of its movements in sonata form. The closing Sonata No. 5 is in a sunny A Major and has an Italian mood to it, bringing the J.C. Bach recital to a graceful and melodic conclusion. The instrument is a 1985 copy of a 1730 Parisian harpsichord and is miked just right using five mikes, but not too closely to pick up annoying mechanical noise.

John Sunier [read full review]

Harpsichord Gems, vol.1. J.C.Bach. Clavier Sonatas (2004)

Bach

Olga Martynova

Digital Converters: Meitner Design
Microphones: Microphones – Neumann km130 DPA (B & K) 4006 ; DPA (B & K) 4011 SCHOEPS mk2S ; SCHOEPS mk41
Producer: Michael Serebryanyi
Recording Engineer: Erdo Groot, Carl Schuurbiers, Roger de Schot
Recording location: 5th Studio of the Russian Television and Radio
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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CM0052004: Harpsichord Gems, vol.1. J.C.Bach. Clavier Sonatas
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1.
Sonata in G major op.5 N3. - Allegro
Bach
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2.
Sonata in G major op.5 N3. - Allegretto
Bach
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Sonata in B-flat major op.5 N1. - Allegretto
Bach
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Sonata in B-flat major op.5 N1. - Tempo di Minuetto
Bach
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Sonata in E-flat major op.5 N4. - Allegro
Bach
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Sonata in E-flat major op.5 N4. - Rondeaux
Bach
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Sonata in G major op.17 N4. - Allegro
Bach
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Sonata in G major op.17 N4. - Presto
Bach
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Sonata in C minor op.17 N2. - Allegro
Bach
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Sonata in C minor op.17 N2. - Andante
Bach
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Sonata in C minor op.17 N2. - Prestissimo
Bach
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Sonata in A major op.17 N5. - Allegro
Bach
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Sonata in A major op.17 N5. - Presto
Bach
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