Sebastian Knauer’s new album is a reminder of the great Bach musical family. The Bach & Sons 2 project traces the family tree via works by father Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian. The pianist is constantly on the lookout for unusual repertoire. “I am constantly on the look-out for repertoire that is still little known. And so I wanted to take the much-recorded original Bach and add something that is not so common, and at the same time is worth listening to.” Alongside the two Concertos BWV 1055 and 1056 there are real rarities on this CD, such as the Concerto by C.P.E. Bach. “This work has always absolutely fascinated me, but there was never a published edition of it. Publisher Dohr helped me out and ensured that we had a version in print in good time for the CD.” Even more exciting is the story behind the Concerto by J.C. Bach, which turned the pianist into a musicological researcher at short notice. “I was looking through a collection of sheet music that was being broken up and found a work by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. Then it emerged that it had been published under a false name and was actually by Johann Christian Bach.”
To produce the right results for this recording Sebastian Knauer has taken a special approach: “I exploit the potential of a modern grand piano, but aim to approximate my sound spectrum and playing technique to that of the harpsichord. That means not using the whole range of a pedal and not applying the sort of touch that I might adopt for a Romantic work.” His view was endorsed by Sir Roger Norrington, a noted early-music specialist, with whom he worked on the first Bach & Sons CD. The conductor’s artistic credo, that what matters for historical performance practice is not the sort of instrument you play, but the way and the style in which you play it, is one that Sebastian Knauer fully subscribes to. That is no less true of Bach & Sons 2, on which the pianist has once more explored the musical legacy of the Bach dynasty.
Equally important to the success of this project is his long and fruitful collaboration with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. “It is simply a pure delight to play with this orchestra. I take it for granted that I can rely on the other musicians without question.” Sebastian Knauer has found a musical soulmate in the person of violinist Daniel Hope. The two have been making music for the past 25 years: “We speak the same musical language. It’s hard to put it into words. We breathe together, think together and can react to one another incredibly fast.” This implicit understanding is evident in the Triple Concerto by J.S. Bach (together with Philipp Jundt on the flute) that closes this recording.