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Steve Holtje
Culture Catch, July 2012

C.P.E. Bach’s…highly expressive keyboard sonatas were ahead of their time. Surprisingly, the available recordings of this set are on either clavichord…or on modern piano, so Alexander-Max, a New Yorker specializing in music of this period, fills a gap by using a ca. 1790 Hofmann grand piano for this 1742 set, which generates an amount of power between the other available choices. She takes every opportunity to indulge C.P.E.’s love of dramatic emotion with lots of tempo manipulation and dynamic contrast, which somewhat compensates for the lesser impact of the instrument…anyone who appreciates C.P.E. Bach’s sonatas should hear them on this period instrument. © 2012 Culture Catch Read complete review

Stephen Smoliar, July 2012

The keyboardist on this new recording is Susan Alexander-Max, who gives a historically-informed performance…

It is impossible to underestimate the significance of the influence this younger Bach had on Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, the “Holy Trinity”…of Charles Rosen’s book The Classical Style. Much of that significance has been nicely captured by Alexander-Max in the essay she prepared for the accompanying booklet.

Alexander-Max’s performances provide just the right balance between…emotive expressiveness and…formal qualities that established a foundation the continues to be honored by today’s composers. Her understanding of the capacities of her piano is comprehensive, and she can tease out subtleties that would be difficult (if not impossible) to achieve on a contemporary grand piano. This is the sort of recording that can rescue this lesser-known Bach from significance that resides only in history books and establishes him as a source of listening experiences that are undoubtedly on a par with the work of his more popularly-acclaimed father. © 2012 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2012

The second and most important musical son of Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel formed the bridge between the Baroque and Classical eras. His father having taken music of his own period to its ultimate perfection, it was left his son to continue into a new epoch, his Prussian Sonatas being among the most adventurous keyboard compositions of his time. Strong and immediately attractive, they date from the period 1740 to 1742, when he was twenty-eight, and newly in the service of the King of Prussia, their present name only added later. Though his outer movements were more fanciful than his father’s music, it is the lyric quality of his slow movements that show a very different musical voice. Listen to the adagio of the second sonata to hear the beauty that had entered music, while the following allegro had an outgoing joy that would have been alien to his father. But it is in the Presto finale of the Third, with its lively jog-trot rhythms, that we begin to look towards Haydn. Shaped in the conventional three movements, they grow increasingly lengthy. That they would have been intended for harpsichord is more than evident, the American period instrument specialist, Susan Alexander-Max, opting for a beautifully preserved Hofmann Grand Piano from around 1790, just a couple of years after Bach’s death. It offers a greater range of sounds than the harpsichord, though I would personally have preferred the earlier instrument. Rhythms and tempos are fluid, and if trills tend to slow the flow of the music, the playing is engaging. Reliable sound quality. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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