The set of six sonatas that Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach dedicated to the young Carl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, was composed in the early 1740s, shortly after Bach had become Chamber Musician in the employ of Frederick the Great of Prussia. The duchy of Württemberg was the object of a tug of war between Prussia and the Hapsburg empire, and Frederick had had the young duke brought to Berlin, allegedly for his education and protection. During this period Carl Eugen received instruction in music from C.P.E. Bach – and we may assume that he was a gifted student as, in later years, he was known to seat himself at the harpsichord accompanying the singers of the ducal opera house. Accordingly the ‘Württemberg’ Sonatas are very demanding, clearly intended for skilful, professional keyboard players rather than the amateurs who at this time were becoming an important target for composers and publishers. The sonatas have almost symphonic or even operatic dimensions and attitudes; in fact they may almost be called romantic, conjuring up fantastic and colourful landscapes.
The first three of the set are here performed on Bach’s own favourite instrument, the clavichord, by Miklós Spányi, whose indefatigable work in bringing the keyboard music of C.P.E. Bach to a wider audience has impressed both critics and music lovers. The reviewer on the web site Klassik Heute wrote of the latest instalment of this series that it ‘will at some stage, and deservedly so, have a place in recording history as an epoch-making achievement’, while its predecessor was deemed to be ‘no less than astonishing. This is wonderful music, beautifully played, and I recommend this disk to anyone who loves keyboard music’ (Music Web International).