C.P.E. Bach's Harp Sonata Wq.139

Posted In: Repertoire

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    Anonymous on #194181

    Hello to everyone,

    Does anybody know if there’s a public domain edition out there in the Web of that wondrous C.P.E. Bach Sonata?

    Cheers, 🙂

    grainne-meyer on #194252

    If you fill in the form here you can access it. http://cpebach.org/license?file=II-1-parts.html

    Interestingly, the treble and bass parts are separate as the sonata was originally written for harp and continuo.

    Anonymous on #194254

    Thank you so much!! Both for the link and for that bit of information about the sonata; I wasn’t aware of that!

    Gretchen Cover on #194256

    Interesting to read about CPE Bach on the website. To summarize the harp sonata: It was written in 1762 and is considered the first solo work for pedal harp. (The single action pedal harp made its debut in 1749.) Prussian court harpist Franz Brennessell was an apprentice to CPE Bach which may have inspired the sonata. In that era, the harp was used as an accompanying instrument. There are a number of videos of the sonata on youtube.

    Anonymous on #194305

    Thank you so much for that bit of research! I must confess I wasn’t aware of the fact that it was considered the first solo work for pedal harp. I’m a pianist, an amateur pianist, but I have a huge interest in many other instruments, like the harpsichord, the organ, all stringed instruments, and of course, the harp among them.

    It was thanks to an old friend from senior high school that I fell in love with the harp.
    Today, I’m no longer in touch with that friend, sadly, but my love for the harp has only gotten stronger :), and I’m a little more knowledgeable about harp repertoire now, having discovered some amazing works for solo harp, such as Catrin Finch’s “Goldberg Variations” and “Italian Concerto” transcriptions, Godefroid’s “Carnival of Venise variations”, some Liszt transcriptions, including two Hungarian Rhapsodies and “Le Rossignol” (Anneleen Lenaerts plays it wondrously), and this sonata by C.P.E. Bach, indeed! It was one of the first solo works for harp I listened. One of my favorite versions of it so far is the recording by Nicanor Zabaleta.

    It certainly is a very charming work, and reminds me somewhat of Haydn’s early sonatas for the piano, with that relatively simple yet delightful joie de vivre.

    Gretchen Cover on #194308

    FYI – The transcription on the CPE Bach website apparently has a major error or else other harpists have played the order incorrectly. The Sonata via the Bach link above starts off with the Adagio, then goes to Allegro and Allegro. Miriam Overlach on her excellent youtube clip plays the Sonata that way. Nicanor Zabaleta plays the Sonata with Allegro, Adagio, Allegro. Thoughts?

    Anonymous on #194309

    Thank you for pointing that out. I did notice that the order of the sonata’s movements was different than the one I was used to (the way Nicanor Zabaleta plays it), but since I still needed to couple the treble and the bass parts with Musescore, I took care of switching around the order of the first two movements.

    I don’t know why the movements would appear in that particular order in that edition; after all, we’re talking about C.P.E. Bach here, not Ludwig van. 😉
    Then again, I didn’t know there were harpists who played it beginning on the slow movement. I wouldn’t exactly consider that sacrilege, but considering this is not really, say, a romantic or 20th century piece, I do believe it sounds better when playing it in the typical ‘fast-slow-fast’ order.

    Gretchen Cover on #194312

    I sent an inquiry to the Packard Humanities Institute asking about the proper order of movements for the Sonata in G.

    Anonymous on #194316

    I’m glad to hear that! If you could let me know what their answer is, I’d be very grateful.

    grainne-meyer on #194319

    The correct movement order should be Adagio un poco – Allegro – Allegro. It’s such a shame that is it so seldom performed in the proper order…

    You can read about it here: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiei_yOhIfMAhVDGw8KHZtRAz0QFghIMAY&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcpebach.org%2Fpdfs%2Fintroductions%2FII-1-Intro.pdf&usg=AFQjCNF-2_CY9gLPBidMuWq3giFJmEH9Yw&bvm=bv.119028448,d.ZWU

    “By the 1720s, when C.P.E. Bach was growing up in
    Leipzig, italianate solo sonatas with four movements
    in the succession slow–quick–slow–quick were giving
    way to three-movement works containing a single slow
    movement. During the 1730s and 1740s, one variety of
    three-movement work, with movements in the sequence
    slow–quick(er)–quick, came to dominate among sonatas
    composed at Dresden and Berlin. “

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #194337

    The score on that website was created specifically for it and has no bearing on the original. The “original” of the Solo for Harp is a copy, so it is not necessarily exactly as CPE Bach wrote it. All the major harpists in the 20th century played it in the musically “correct” order of fast-slow-fast, from Grandjany to Lawrence. It conforms to Bach’s other works that are comparable, and to what may well have been its role model, JS Bach’s Italian Concerto. CPE has other sonatas in the slow-fast-faster mode and they are quite different in character, where the fast-slow-fast sonatas are quite similar. It is therefore wrong to say it is “correct” to play it in the slow-fast-faster format. And that is presuming that after playing the first Allegro, one can play the second even faster. It is fairly obvious that the piece was written as an ideal, and one might well wonder if this aforementioned harpist would have been able to play it for the composer, as it takes years to learn now, not to mention to also realize it.
    The major editions are the Grandjany, which eliminates the ornaments as I recall, Zingel’s which includes the original ornaments and figured bass with minimal suggestions for realization, and Lucile Lawrence’s, who strove to make it full and open in sonority with the ornaments in place, working from the so-called urtext. I don’t believe Zabaleta’s was ever published. The urtext has been reprinted by an academic publisher. I have prepared one of my own which is now complete, if anyone dare try to learn it. I found Jane Weidensaul’s edition to be inaccurate, unmusical, and not very playable or enjoyable. When I undertook to learn the work for my master’s recital, at Miss Lawrence’s behest, I examined all four editions and found hers to be most justifiable. And, as a benefit, she explained her reasoning to me. My edition is more full-bodied, based on my extensive studies of his music and this work, and on continuo playing, figured-bass realization, and study of his father’s music, as well as that of Handel, whose solo and concerto precede that of Bach, though not for pedal harp. I don’t know how soon I will publish my edition, but if someone wants to learn it now, I can make a copy available.

    grainne-meyer on #194365

    How on earth could the Italian Concerto have been a role model?!

    grainne-meyer on #194368

    I’d noticed that my previous link didn’t work, so the one above should take you to a google search where the article is the first link.

    It’s interesting to note that nearly every one of the solo sonatas follows the order of slow-fast-faster

    Gretchen Cover on #194372

    This is an important topic so I hope the discussion doesn’t dissolve into a Salzedo-French method-like debate. There appears to be good reasoning on both sides.

    I could find the Zingel arrangement of the Sonata but the Lucille Lawrence version from 1966 published by Lyra is no longer in print. I could not find the Grandjany version, either. Perhaps someone could scan theirs into imslp.

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