Marc-André Hamelin plays CPE Bach

photo credit: Sim Cannety-Clarke

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Writing for Grove Online, Christoph Wolff and Ulrich Leisinger say of J.S. Bach’s second son Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-1788),

“He was the most important composer in Protestant Germany during the second half of the 18th century, and enjoyed unqualified admiration and recognition particularly as a teacher and keyboard composer.”

C.P.E. Bach’s most enthusiastic admirers included that great triumvirate of the Viennese Classical era, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and of those composers whose careers straddled the transition from Baroque to Classical styles in the mid 18th century, C.P.E. has perhaps left the most extraordinary body of music, especially for the keyboard family of instruments.

C.P.E. Bach composed some 400 works for solo keyboard instruments. Sadly, much of this music fell out of use in the nineteenth century and it is only in recent decades that it has once more found itself championed by performers, the most recent of whom is the Canadian virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin.


Hamelin’s new release from the ever-brilliant Hyperion label is a 140-minute two-CD set showcasing a broad and irresistible range of C.P.E. Bach’s art.

It is surely destined to be recognised as one of the great recordings of the present decade, so join me as I take a closer look at this Pianodao Recording of the Month

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Rachmaninov: Second Sonata

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Rachmaninov’s Sonata No.2 in B flat minor Op.36 is one of those gargantuan masterpieces generally only attempted by those with a truly titanic technique. But for anyone interested in playing, studying or getting to know the work, Dominik Rahmer’s brand new edition for Henle Verlag will be of profound interest.

As connoisseurs of the Sonata will probably know, there are two versions: the original 1913 version published in 1914, and the composer’s major revision published in 1931.

For this Henle publication, Rahmer has produced not one but two brand new urtext editions, printed one after the other for comparison. Adding further enticement, fingering is provided by none other than the revered concert pianist Marc-André Hamelin. So let’s have a look…

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