Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788) Violoncello Concerto in A minor Wq 170
Urtext edited by Ulrich Leisinger [vc,str,bc] duration: 25'
The concertos in A minor and B flat major were first written as violoncello concertos between 1750 and 1753. They thus rank among the very first concertos for solo cello in Germany.
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The A minor Concerto, composed in 1750, is performed quite frequently today. C. P. E. Bach most likely wrote the Concerto in B flat major Wq. 171 as the last of the little work group in 1753 in Potsdam, at the court of King Frederick the Great. He reworked the composition for flute and harpsichord shortly thereafter. Various sources prove that copies of the work had made it known quite extensively in the second half of the 18th century. In his new Urtext edition, Ulrich Leisinger bases himself on two reliable manuscripts.
Have a look into the piano reductcion.
“Here is a beautifully clear solo copy with precious few slurring marks. There are no performance indications in the piano part either. Let each player find his own truth.” (Mary Nemet, Stringendo)
|1. Allegro assai|
|3. Allegro assai|
During his long creative career, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788) wrote more than 50 concertos for one solo instrument and orchestra. Although the majority of his concertos are 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 cello concertos in A minor (Wq 170), B flat major (Wq 171) and A major (Wq 172); at the same time his half-brother Johann Christian, who lived in his household after their father’s death, composed a now lost cello concerto as well. These works belong to the earliest concertos for this solo instrument in Germany. It is not known whether the concertos were written for the violoncellist Ignaz Mara (1721–1783), who, like Bach, was a member of the Prussian court orchestra, or for another virtuoso.
According to the Verzeichniß des musikalischen Nachlasses des verstorbenen Capellmeisters Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (“Catalog 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 170 was composed in Berlin in 1750 and exists in two further authentic versions as well – for flute (Wq 166 [Musica Rara 2195]) and for harpsichord (Wq 26). It is the only one of Bach’s cello concertos for which the original score survives. The autograph is preserved under the shelf number Mus. ms. Bach P 355 in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv. The autograph heading reads: “Concerto a Violoncello obl. 2 Violini Viola e Basso di CPEBach.” The manuscript is cleanly written and poses no editorial problems. The violoncello obbligato is written between the viola and the basso staves and includes cues for the orchestral ritornello sections. The ritornellos are written out in the cello parts of the two extant eighteenth-century copies, a fair copy from the mid 1790s by Bach’s main scribe Johann Heinrich Michel for the Schwerin collector Johann Jakob Heinrich Westphal (today in the library of the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, shelf number 5633 MSM) and a manuscript in an unknown Berlin hand (ca. 1780) from the collection of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin (on deposit in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, shelf number SA 2603). We may therefore assume that the soloist was meant to lead the performance; it is up to the modern-day performer to determine the extent of his participation in the ritornellos and the orchestral interjections which divide the solo episodes.
The edition is based with kind permission of the respective institutes on the autograph score (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) and the authorized set of parts from the Westphal collection (Royal Conservatory Brussels).
Leipzig, Fall 2003