Keith Jarrett: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

August 9, 2023, 9:00 am

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Keith Jarrett’s account of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Württemberg Sonatas is a revelation. “I’d heard the sonatas played by harpsichordists, and felt there was a space left for a piano version,” says Jarrett today. This outstanding recording, made in May 1994 and previously unreleased, finds the pianist attuned to the expressive implications of the sonatas in every moment. The younger Bach’s idiosyncrasies: the gentle playfulness of the music, the fondness for subtle and sudden tempo shifts, the extraordinary, rippling invention…all of this is wonderfully delivered. The fluidity of the whole performance has a quality that perhaps could be conveyed only by an artist of great improvisational skills. In Jarrett’s hands, C.P.E. Bach’s exploration of new compositional forms retains the freshness of discovery.