Having reviewed Vol. 3 of Naxos' excellent survey of the Keyboard Works of Wilhelm Friedmann Bach, I was delighted when volume 4 came along for review. This is the third volume which features the Brazilian harpsichordist Julia Brown. In this volume she plays three solo sonatas, and is joined by Barbara Baird for the Sonata for two harpsichords in F major. This is a work on a larger scale than the other compositions featured here and is sometimes referred to as a Concerto.
Hailing from the musically prolific Bach family, Wilhelm Friedmann was born in 1710, and was the eldest of Johann Sebastian's sons. Many consider him to be the most original of the sons, but his output was much smaller than that of Carl Philip Emmanuel. A keyboard soloist, the works here display great originality and a fluency in keyboard writing. His keyboard sonatas contributed to the development of a new keyboard sonata form between the Baroque and Classical periods. He died in 1784.
Brown plays with great distinction throughout, offering the listener compelling performances, in excellent, spacious sound. She shows great affinity for this music. The playing is well- focused, and is endowed with exquisite refinement. Articulation is marked with rhythmical incisiveness. Tempi and phrasing are well-judged. Brown and Baird have worked together before, and clearly integrate well together in the work for two harpsichords.
Liner notes are written by Julia Brown herself, and are excellent and informative. It is laudable of Naxos to make available these little-known works. Like the previous volumes in the survey, I would give this CD my thumbs-up. Another winner!