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The Consort

Penelope Cave

Volume 73, Summer 2017

Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch
Sonata 5 in F major
Edition HH, HH385.SOL, Launton, 2016
(pbk, £9.95)
ISMN 979 0 708146 08 7

Hardenack Otto Conrad Zinck
Sonata no. 8 in G minor
Edition HH, HH384.SOL, Launton, 2016
(pbk, £9.95)
ISMN 979 0 708146 07 0

Johann Baptist Cramer
Sonata in C major, op. 22, no. 2
Edition HH, HH383.SOL, Launton, 2016
(pbk, £9.95)
ISMN 979 0 708146 20 9

It seems appropriate to review these three independent sonatas together, all of which are offprints from the complete keyboard editions of this publisher, representing keyboard style in the last fifteen years of the eighteenth century. They were all edited by the late Christopher Hogwood and share a similar format, with excellent introductions. They are beautifully printed with illustrated covers and contain, perhaps, the cream of these composers’ works for performance on domestic eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century keyboard instruments. Fasch and Zinck are a generation earlier than Cramer, and I shall present them in chronological order of both their births and their publications.

Fasch (1736-1800) was recommended by Franz Benda in 1756 to become the second harpsichordist at the court of Frederick the Great. Considered a true successor to C. P. E. Bach, he was praised for his performances of the music of both C. P. E. and J. S. Bach; this sonata was first published in about 1785. The complete edition of Fasch’s keyboard music was issued in three volumes by Edition HH, nos. 300-302.

The three movements of his sonata no. 5 are headed Molto Allegro, Andante and Presto. Markings for Tragen der Töne in the second movement and a review of a later edition in 1805 suggest that this sonata was intended for the clavichord, but the print on the front of this edition shows a somewhat anachronistic small clavichord played by a woman, after Gerard Dou’s painting of 1665, over a century earlier.

I find that the Italianate semiquaver movement and two-part texture of the first movement and, to some extent, the shared-hand motifs in the last, work better on the harpsichord. This compositional style of C. P. E. Bach, whom Fasch is said to have interpreted so well, does affect his outer movements, but the clavichord or early piano may best showcase the Andante. As a ‘taster’ this will surely invite further interest in the rest of his keyboard music.

A cheerful portrait of Zinck (1746-1832) graces the cover of his eighth sonata, whose movements are headed Allegro con brio, Adagio con espressione and Presto. Like Fasch, he was also a favoured pupil of C. P. E. Bach. Zinck later worked as an organist in Copenhagen, where he died, though it is not organ pipes but the spirit of Empfindsamkeit (or ‘sensitive style’) that is present in this sonata in G minor, extracted from his Compositioner of 1791-3, which also contains variations and lieder. Zinck, a flautist as well as a keyboard virtuoso, was praised for his interesting melodic style, and the diversity of musical ideas in his earlier publication of six sonatas, which I reviewed for the Consort in 2011. It is worth repeating that Zinck’s Six Sonatas of 1783, published two years before the sonata of Fasch described above, had a subscription list which included the names of both Fasch and Cramer.

The score of this later work immediately attracts the eye with its diverse figurations and rhythmic interest. Like the Fasch sonata, each movement has contrasting textures. Zinck dazzles both eye and ear with the interplay of two-handed motivic textures in the first movement, and the Adagio con espressione displays idiosyncratically beamed dotted notes, which appear to be a clear indication of articulation. The frequency of his instructions concerning dynamics points to the clavichord or early piano. The Presto utilises broken chords to be played with fleet-fingered forward movement, seemingly without much holding over. The three volumes of Zinck’s complete keyboard works (HH 240-42) suggest there is more of interest to explore.

Cramer (1771-1858), a pupil of Schroeter, Abel and Clementi, wrote 117 sonatas, and published his three op. 22 sonatas in Vienna in 1799, with a dedication to Haydn. The sonatas appeared in London in 1802, where Cramer was already lauded for his piano playing, and his legato touch. His publications benefitted from a market that was hungry for piano music, and this second sonata in C major was well-marked with indications for its performance. Cramer’s teaching material from his Instructions for the Piano Forte (1812), although later than these sonatas, distils information on how he taught, and on what was required to play his music. Hogwood has utilised Cramer’s Instructions in his succinct advice adapted from the preface to the full op. 22 set, published in 2010 (Edition HH 193).

Although not one of his most serious works, this sonata offers some of Cramer’s best writing, with an imaginative Largo assai as a prelude, which forms a suitably arresting introduction to what follows. Composers were starting to supply model preludes and specific introductions, rather than risk the improvisatory skills of the player. Here, players who were left to their own devices might not take the listener from the opening C major into the minor with an ending on the dominant, as Cramer required. The movement that grows out of the prelude forms the main body of the sonata, with an agitated forward momentum in C minor. I would class this as a two-movement sonata, because it then finishes with an active and cheerful Allegretto in C major, employing semiquaver scales, broken octaves and sixths.

By all means purchase this wonderful sonata, but I would encourage my pupils to put it in context and buy the whole op. 22 set, as it is available in the same excellent edition. In conclusion, these three examples of sonatas by Fasch, Zinck and Cramer are linked in different ways to each other, and to the keyboard works of C. P. E. Bach, Hayden and Mozart, and each deserves a place alongside the music of these better-known composers, as was true in their own time.

We are grateful to theThe Consort for permission to reproduce this review.

Add to shopping basketCarl Friedrich Christian Fasch, Sonata 5 in F major
Add to shopping basketHardenack Otto Conrad Zinck, Sonata no. 8 in G minor
Add to shopping basketJohann Baptist Cramer, Sonata in C major, op. 22, no. 2

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