CPE BACH: Complete Piano Trios
„In Hamburg, 1775, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, by then an internationally celebrated and well-connected figure, was surely aware of the genre’s popularity. After all, his half-brother, the London-based Johann Christian, was central in promoting this new culture of domestic piano playing. Responsive to the market demand, C.P.E. came to an agreement with the London publisher Bremner to publish the following year Six Sonatas for the Harpsichord or Pianoforte accompanied by Violin and Violoncello (Wq. 89). Despite the title, Bach referred to these works at times as Trios, at times as Sonatas, and sometimes even as “Trios (which are also Solos)”.
It seems he didn’t really know what to call them, as they sat in between his previously clear categories of Trios (in the Baroque trio-sonata format of two equal instrumental parts accompanied by basso continuo), keyboard solo works, and the “Soli” (works for various solo instruments to be accompanied by the continuo). His ambivalence towards this fashionable new genre was evident in a letter where he contemptuously referred to the
accompanied sonatas as a “non- or half-entity”.
But regardless, the publication was exceedingly successful, and Bach enjoyed what he probably considered a nice bonus to his usual duties of writing religious choral works: “I am having more luck than I have the right to expect. People are crazy about my modest concoction, from which one may profit.” He published two further sets (Wq. 90 and 91) with Breitkopf in Germany in 1776 and 1777, to great success.
Business acumen aside, these works reveal C.P.E. Bach at the height of his career and are full of invention, expression, and shocking surprises
that at times surpass what even Beethoven might dare to do..…..“ (Excerpt from the liner notes by LINOS PIANO TRIOS)