Featured Album January 2024: Jermaine Sprosse "JCF Bach: Works for Keyboard Solo"
For our first Featured Album of 2024, we’re pleased to bring you a new release from Prospero Classical, showcasing the keyboard works of one of the lesser-known members of the iconic Bach family. Johann Cristoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795) was the fifth son of Johann Sebastian, a talented keyboard player whose work demonstrated an innate musical understanding. Performed here with passion by Swiss harpsichordist Jermaine Sprosse, this is to our knowledge the first collection of JCF’s keyboard music of its kind. Why not start the new year by discovering some of this fascinating music?
Update 19/01/24 – Unfortunately the release of this album has been pushed back to 2nd February 2024 due to a distribution delay. Our stock is still on order and will be despatched as soon as we receive it – you can still pre-order the album in the meantime!
JCF Bach: Works for Keyboard Solo
OUR FEATURED ALBUM FOR JANUARY 2024
NEW! Check out our extended interview with Jermaine Sprosse to find out more about the album and his love of the music of JCF Bach:
From the artist's press release…
Among the four composing sons of Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Christoph Friedrich (1732-1795) is the least known today.
The main reason for this is probably his position as court kapellmeister in Buckeburg, which, unlike his brothers' places of activity, was far removed from the musical metropolises of the time.
Contemporaries praised, among other things, his virtuoso piano playing, which Jermaine Sprosse can only confirm after studying his piano works in detail. On PROSPERO he presents an album with selected, particularly successful pieces of the "Bückeburg" Bach.
It quickly became clear to the harpsichordist Jermaine Sprosse during his study of Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach’s keyboard works that the records of the well-known Bach biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel regarding Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach – the comparatively little-known third of Johann Sebastian Bach’s composing sons – are very sparse. He is all the more pleased to present here an album with selected sonatas and individual pieces by the "Bückeburg" Bach, which he considers particularly successful. It was particularly important to him to show J. C. F. Bach as an extremely multifaceted composer. For this reason, the programme selection took into account the greatest possible variety of genres and forms, but also of moods, affects and nuances of expression, so that Bach can be seen in his full range as a piano composer.
Why The Early Music Shop loves "JCF Bach: Works for Keyboard Solo":
Jermaine Sprosse presents a unique programme of music by Johann Cristoph Friedrich Bach on this new album via Prospero Classical. Released in digital formats last August, the album receives its physical release this month.
Sprosse’s use of an original c.1805 fortepiano by Johann Haselmann characterises this recording, with its bright, percussive sound creating a striking sound world. The sleeve notes draw attention to the strong bass tones on this instrument, though the vibrant clarity of the upper register is also very notable. The music on the album is varied and deeply virtuosic, with the Classical tendencies of JCF Bach’s compositions differentiating his works from those of his elder relatives. The influence of half-brother CPE Bach is also felt in the compositions, as Sprosse explains: “On the one hand, there is the North German School of [JCF Bach’s] half-brother Carl Philipp Emanuel, demanding on all levels of musical discourse. On the other hand, there is the Classical Style, which was becoming more and more prevalent in Europe.”
The passion and care with which Sprosse approaches this project is clear. The excellent detail in the sleeve notes draws the listener in and guides them through music which is most likely unfamiliar to many ears. The opening Sonata in A Major is undoubtedly one of the disc’s highlights, setting the tone with an agile and vibrant Allegretto and a thoughtful Andante. Throughout the disc, the Sonatas are interspersed with shorter interludes, including an athletic Solfeggio, and pick of the crop to this listener’s ears, a nuanced Polonaise.
Perhaps more unexpected is the second piece on the album: a Fantasia of Sprosse’s own composition in the style of Bach’s work, designed as a reconstruction of Bach’s own improvisatory performances. This track shows Sprosse’s deep knowledge of Bach’s style, and while the variations make it one of the album’s most ‘showy’ moments, the pairing with a short Fugue in the same key ensure it does not feel out of place.
Packaged with brilliant photography by Daniele Caminiti and the aforementioned detailed booklet in both English and German, this is a confident and engaging declaration by an artist who knows his subject. More than just that, though, it stands as an important documentation of works by a rarely-heard compositional master.
JCF Bach: Works for Keyboard Solo is available to pre-order from The Early Music Shop - orders will be despatched from the official release date of 02/02/24!