Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788) Flute Concerto in A minor Wq 166
edited by Ulrich Leisinger [fl,str,bc] duration: 25'
A variable solo concerto in A minor
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The concertos in A minor, B flat major and A major constitute a small but amazingly flexible group in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's work catalogue. They were written as violoncello concertos between 1750 and 1753, and have all been transmitted in alternative versions as flute and harpsichord concertos as well. C. P. E. Bach wrote the Cello Concerto in A minor Wq 170 at the Berlin court of King Frederick the Great. The flute version Wq 166 was probably written shortly thereafter, even if the only surviving source dates from after the composer's death. We can see how interchangeable the solo instruments were through the amazing circumstance that editor Ulrich Leisinger was able to draw upon the version for harpsichord solo Wq 26 for this new edition. The cadenzas to the first and second movements proved to be easily adaptable to the flute, which should inspire soloists to create their own versions.
|1. Allegro assai|
|3. Allegro assai|
During his long and creative career, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788) composed more than 50 concertos for one solo instrument and orchestra. Although the majority of his concertos were destined for keyboard, approximately one dozen concertos were originally written for flute, oboe or cello and were only later adapted to C. P. E. Bach’s own instrument, the harpsichord. Between 1750 and 1753, Bach wrote three concertos in A minor (Wq 26/166/170), B flat major (Wq 29/167/171) and A major (Wq 28/168/172). These works were apparently conceived for the violoncello, but they are also transmitted in authentic versions for transverse flute and for harpsichord.
According to the Verzeichniß des musikalischen Nachlasses des verstorbenen Capellmeisters Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (“Catalogue of the Musical Estate of the Late Capellmeister Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach”), Hamburg, Schniebes, 1790, p. 31, no. 27, the present concerto in A minor Wq 166 was composed in Berlin in 1750. The autograph of the version for violoncello is preserved under the shelf number Mus. ms. Bach P 355 at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv. We assume that the concerto had been arranged for flute by 1755. In this year, serious disagreements arose between Bach and King Frederick the Great, which nearly resulted in Bach quitting the royal service. As a result he lost interest in composing for flute.
The flute version is transmitted in a single fair copy from the collection of the Schwerin organist Johann Jakob Heinrich Westphal (today in the library of the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, shelf number 5516 MSM). This set of parts was not prepared until 1792–1793 by Johann Heinrich Michel, Bach’s main copyist in Hamburg, from now lost original sources in the composer’s estate. Both manuscripts are cleanly written and pose no editorial problems.
Manuscript 5871 MSM of the Royal Conservatory in Brussels contains authentic cadenzas for the first and second movements. Despite the heading “Cadenz zum ersten Allegro des Violonc. conc. aus dem A. moll.” and “Zum Adagio des vorigen Concerto,” these cadenzas were apparently intended for the harpsichord. But they suit the flute well and can be used without further adaptation. They are given in the solo part as a source of inspiration.
The present edition of Bach’s Flute Concerto in A minor is based with kind permission on the authorized set of parts from the Westphal collection (Royal Conservatory in Brussels); the autograph score of the violoncello version (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) was used for comparison.
Salzburg, Spring 2006
Extra string parts available
Edition for Flute and Piano MR 2195A available for sale