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CPE Bach writes about freedom of expression

May 21, 2008

In this extract CPE Bach discusses how features of the keyboard fantasia encourage freedom of expression.

…it is especially in fantasias, those expressive not of memorized or plagiarised passages, but rather of true, musical creativeness, that the keyboardist more than any other executant can practice the declamatory style, and move audaciously from one affect to another…..Unbarred free fantasias seems especially adept at the expression of affects, for each meter carries a kind of compulsion within itself. At least it can be seen in accompanied recitatives that tempo and meter must be frequently changed in order to rouse and still the rapidly alternating affects….It is a distinct merit of the fantasia that…it can accomplish the aims of the recitative at the keyboard with complete, unmeasured freedom.

(Mitchell, William J, Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, trans. & ed. WJ Mitchell, Cassell And Company, Ltd., London, p.153)

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