Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Quartet in a minor for Flute or Violin, Viola, Cello & Piano
C.P.E. Bach's Quartet in a minor, H.537 was composed in 1788, the year of his death. It was commissioned by a friend and patron of the Bach family Sarah Iztig, a student of his older brother Wilhelm Friedemann and an avid collector of his music. The title quartet only signifies the number of players but not which instruments. It appears that the work was intended for either Flute or Violin, Viola, Cello and either Fortepiano or Harpsichord. In three movements, it opens with an engaging Andantino and is followed by a sensitive and lovely Largo e sostenuto. The finale, is an upbeat Allegro assai. (Our soundbites are of a clarinet rather than flute, viola, cello and piano but sound much the same as with the flute)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) was the son of of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach. His second name was given in honor of his godfather the famous Hamburg composer Georg Philipp Telemann. He was one of four Bach children to become a professional musician and was almost entirely by his father.C. P. E. Bach was an influential composer working at a time of transition between his father's baroque style and the classical and romantic styles that followed it. His brother Johann Christian, music master to the Queen of England was, the known as the "London Bach," C.P.E. Bach eventually became known as the "Berlin Bach" during his residence in that city, and later as the "Hamburg Bach" when he succeeded Telemann as Kapellmeister there. His compositional style was expressive and often turbulent and was quite different fromthe more mannered galant style which was in vogue during much of his life. He worked for many years in Berlin at the court of Frederick the Great but eventually was able to obtain the post in 1768 of Kapellmeister in Hamburg where he resided for the rest of his life. Though today, his name is still known, his music, much of it deserving revival, is not often played.
This work is an excellent example of the composers mature style and is quite successful in either version with flute or violin.