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The King's Men - works by C.P.E. Bach, Christoph Nichelmann, Carl F.C. Fasch / Jermaine Sprosse, harpsichord & fortepiano

Notes & Reviews:

The CD-production 'The King's Men' puts three composers centre-stage who have one thing in common: they were all - whether at the same time or in succession - harpsichordists at the Königliche Hofkapelle of Frederick the Great in Berlin. The composers in question are Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Christoph Nichelmann, and Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch. Appropriately, the young performer Jermaine Sprosse has chosen works for harpsichord or fortepiano for his debut recording. The choice of instrument - harpsichord or fortepiano - is determined by the expressive content and character of the individual work. As colourful and diverse as the instrumentation are Jermaine Sprosse's performances. He breathes new life into an essential feature of eighteenth-century performance practice: the use of varied repeats. At times improvised ad hoc, these varied repeats allow the performer to engage in an active dialogue with the notated score, the music itself, and last but not least with the composer himself. The result: lively and multifaceted music from the context of Frederick II's court.

American Record Guide, September/October 2015
This is spectacularly good. Jermaine Sprosse plays sonatas and variations by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-88) and sonatas by two of his colleagues: Christoph Nichelmann (1717- 62) and Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch (1736- 1800). All three of these composer-harpsichordists served in the court of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Nichelmann had studied with both JS and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and with Frederick's other resident expert, Johann Joachim Quantz. He did not get along well with CPE Bach, and he resigned in 1756 and was replaced by Fasch. Fasch had a solid career, flourishing especially after CPE left Frederick's service in 1768.

Sprosse is amazing on both instruments. He has complete control of fingering and phrasing - it sounds like he could play anything in the moment of inspiration. It is the way that both Friedemann and Emanuel Bach are reputed to have played and improvised, with confidence and abandon. Sprosse plays around with tempo and articulation, with great flexibility. Every gesture comes from details of the music, underlining the whimsy he has found in the compositions. This is not background music to be ignored as merely pleasant; it is quicksilver expression, shifting from elegance to drive to sorrow and back, as the music goes along. I wanted to hear it over and over and never got tired of it.


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