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Thread: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach(WF Bach)

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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Default Wilhelm Friedemann Bach(WF Bach)

    A very sly composer, can find his was out of any tricky situation. Very interesting combination of Baroque and classicism. One of the most underrated composers of all time in my opinion. Just didn't write enough. Very interesting to speculate about why he didn't.

    Listen to this unique piece, a sinfonia that is really an adagio and fugue. A serious gem.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMpgEmTPT7A


    and a fantasia played on a little clavichord, could sound great on the piano too
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYF7faLCUkQ

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    Technically the most talented composer of all of J. S. Bach's children, musically speaking. But he didn't seem to deliver his potential nearly as much as his other famous brothers. (I tend to prefer his brothers' music more, namely C. P. E. and J. C.). He didn't because he seemed to have some personality problems, being raised as the eldest son of J. S. He probably received the best training ever possibly given by J. S. and evidence showed that W. F. seemed to have an air of arrogance about his own talent.

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    Nonetheless a fantastic composer of sonatas. The adagio and fugue for orchestra above I highly recommend. Sometimes he does "silent modulations", that is stopping for a measure and then returning to a key. He's a very quirky and ingenious composer, I like to think of him in some ways as an 18th century Brahms and indeed Brahms liked his Polonaises(which are not at all traditional polonaises), though in many ways these two are fundamentally different.

    For a fun depiction of the Bach family, I highly recommend the German movie Mien Name Ist Bach. They exaggerate Willhelm's personality of which little is actually known, into a sort of spoiled bad boy. He may very well have had mental health issues, but in an older portrait of him that I recently saw, he had a more Bachian look about him but with the same sly smile. I tend to think of him as more of a depressed grump with many eccentricities and less of a loose party guy, that was more Johann Christian.

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    Another sonata on from the clavichord channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex4bEpx5VTs. Check out the finale of that one, its a fun one with a very nice silent modulation, more of a dramatic pause out of nowhere, and there is one in the first movement as well. Such hairy and off kilter counterpoint. A "crooked" and brilliant compositional style

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    One of my more favourite CDs is Musica Antiqua Köln performing JS Bach's five orchestral suites. "Five"???? I hear you cry. Yes, five. For years it was thought that a suite by WF was actually by his father. Listening to it now, it's amazing how anyone could ever have thought that - there's as much difference between this music and JS's as between his and Vivaldi's.

    But this "5th suite" is truly amazing. Completely wacko, off the wall. The fugal section of the first movement seems indicative of someone who's suffering withdrawal symptoms from LSD. One of the other movements has a chord spun out over a couple of bars that's repeated down a tone four consecutive times (e.g. the chords of e minor, d minor, c minor and b flat minor).

    He reminds me of Peter Schikele's quip about his creation PDQ Bach (if you haven't come across him, you're in for a real treat!), where he says something to the effect that "most composers around 1750 could make up their minds whether they were Baroque or Classical. PDQ couldn't." The real-life WF sounds a bit like that, as clavichorder implies.

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    That's a fantastic suite Anhelm! I think I read somewhere that they didn't really have a clue who composed that piece, they thought the most likely candidate may have been WF, but they were very uncertain, so its basically anonymous, which is a real shame not to know. When I first listened to that suite, I thought it sounded more polished than WF Bach, almost like Corelli gone wild.

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    And as for anyone at all "going wild", you can rely on Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln to make the most of that! My favourite recording of the Brandenburgs used to be Harnoncourt's second one, until this lot came along and played them so fast that they had room for the harpsichord/flute/violin concerto in A minor as well! Yet somehow they always seem to penetrate to the sense of the music. Nothing's merely ordinary with them - certainly not extraordinary music like WF Bach!

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    I wish a good pianist would condescend to play WF's sonatas and polonaises on the modern piano. I think they'd work very well, they are great works that needn't be confined to period instrument performance.

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    After my obsession with J.S. Bach waned a little bit, I decided to listen to his childrens' outputs. Unfortunatley, I started with CPE, and have been stuck there - I have greatly enjoyed most of what I have heard from him, and am enjoying Miklos Spanyi's traversal of his solo and accompanied keyboard works.

    That said, I still hope to let my curiosity bring me to the other sons - perhaps W.F. should be next on the list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrMike View Post
    After my obsession with J.S. Bach waned a little bit, I decided to listen to his childrens' outputs. Unfortunatley, I started with CPE, and have been stuck there - I have greatly enjoyed most of what I have heard from him, and am enjoying Miklos Spanyi's traversal of his solo and accompanied keyboard works.

    That said, I still hope to let my curiosity bring me to the other sons - perhaps W.F. should be next on the list.
    Do check out his solo keyboard music, but if recordings aren't good, look I recommend his Adagio and Fugue in D minor(Sinfonia). I believe this to be his masterpiece for pure instrumental orchestra. He also wrote the best Cantatas not written by J.S. Bach.

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    6 of his harpsichord sonatas are now available in good performance on youtube:

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    I have been a lover of W.F. Bach's since I first heard a record of his piano works, back in... 1992 or 1993.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clavichorder View Post
    6 of his harpsichord sonatas are now available in good performance on youtube:
    Sadly, that video no more exists: "the YourTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement."

    Freaking copyrights again. As a scientist, I have nothing but disdain and hatred for them (note, I do not mind licenses - I like giving credit where it's due, and CC-style licenses are excellent at that. But copyrights have always been a tool for big media to wrestle control of my and fellow scientists' work, away from us).

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    Senior Member Dustin's Avatar
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    I've listened to the WF Bach album by Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin. Very enjoyable works! I particularly enjoy the high-energy and quirky sounding Sinfonia in D Major Fk 64.

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