Musik der Empfindsamkeit was a very specific musical genre. Empfindsamer Stil (sensitive style) was primarily a style written in Germany during the late Baroque. Most 18th Century music (including that of J.S. Bach’s) was written according to the Doctrine of Affections. Each movement should only express one affection, or emotion.
By contrast, the empfindsamer Stil strove to a more natural expression. This included sudden contrasts within movements and more fluid ornamentation.
The court of Frederick the Great was the center of this philosophy, so it’s no surprise that many of the composers on this release are associated with his court. Johann Quantz was Frederick’s flute instructor. Franz Benda was his court’s concertmaster. Carl Philipp Emanual Bach was a member of his orchestra, and later one of Frederick’s chamber musicians.
The release also includes works by two outliers. Carl Friedrich Abel built a solid career in London, working with Johann Christian Bach. George Philipp Telemann was Carl Philipp Emanual’s godfather and friend.
While there are stylistic differences between the composers, the overall “sensitive style” is easy to discern. The music lacks the hammering drive of the Baroque basso continuo. Tempos vary within movements, slowing or quickening for best effect. Counterpoint is minimal — lyrical, flowing melodies are the focus.
These pieces lay the foundation for the Classical style to come, as developed by Haydn and Mozart. And yet they have a charm all their own.
Lawerence Dean’s playing is beautifully expressive. This music relies on nuance, and Dean delivers. His transverse flute sings with a warm, full tone. Andrew Laurence-King performs equally well. He plays a variety of instruments, which serve to vary the sound of the program.
A beautiful program beautifully performed.
Musik der Empfindsamkeit
Music of the Sensitive Style for Flute & Harp
Laurence Dean: transverse flute
Andrew Lawrence-King; harp, cembalo, orgelpositiv
Christophorus CHE 0214-2