JW Hassler - Keyboard Sonatas
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Label: Brilliant Classics
Cat No: 95225
Number of Discs: 4
Release Date: 9th December 2016
WorksLeichte Sonaten (6) furs Clavier
Neue Sonaten (6) furs Clavier oder Pianoforte
Sonaten (6) furs Clavier
ArtistsMichele Benuzzi (harpsichord, fortepiano, clavichord)
J.W. Hässler (1747-1822) is not to be confused with Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), whose music has hitherto been better known and more frequently recorded. Born three years before the death of J.S. Bach, J.W. Hässler’s style embraces both the high-Baroque idiom and then the more edgy, episodic pre-Classical style of his sons, C.P.E. and W.F. Bach. Featured here are three published collections, published in Germany between 1776 and 1780 which reveal him moving from one into the other. Mozart was fairly scathing about him upon the occasion of their one encounter, in Dresden in 1789 – ‘incapable of executing a fugue properly’ – but five years later Hässler moved to St Petersburg where he secured local fame and a small fortune.
Benuzzi has chosen to illuminate the composer’s stylistic journey from polyphony and counterpoint to much more freely composed forms with different instruments. The six sonatas in the 1776 collection are played on a harpsichord, then the 1778 set on a fortepiano and the 1780 ‘Leichte Sonaten’ on a clavichord, both latter instruments based on originals by Gottfried Silbermann, Bach’s favourite maker of keyboard instruments.
Fanfare gave an ‘absolute highest recommendation’ to Benuzzi’s previous Hässler album. ‘He is the ideal interpreter to bring this music to light: highly sensitive to the gesture and emotion of the music, yet capable of carrying the musical narrative forward in telling fashion.’
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