The Fantasia H. 348

C. P. E. Bach: Fantasia in E-flat (Helm cat. no. 348)

This work, which constitutes the most important keyboard music by the composer to surface during the twentieth century, was brought to the attention of scholars when Douglas A. Lee  described its autograph manuscript source in his article “C. P. E. Bach and the Free Fantasia for Keyboard: Deutsche Staatsbibliothek Mus. Ms. Nichelmann 1N,” in C. P. E. Bach Studies, ed. Stephen L. Clark (Oxford: Clarendeon Press, 1988), pp. 177-84. Lee dates the autograph to the 1740s; I pointed out subsequently that the work contains a few details of figuration common to Bach’s fantasia-like sonata in G minor of 1747, W. 65/17.
To hear the work in my performance at the Early Piano Conference at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota in 2000, click here. The performance is on a copy of a Silbermann fortepiano of the 1740s built by David Sutherland; the instrument includes a moderator intended to make the piano sound like a Pantaleon, the famous hammered dulcimer that was a forerunner of the fortepiano. Following C. P. E. Bach’s instructions in the Versuch, it is played without dampers.
I have removed my edition of the work from this website, since a critical edition now appears in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works, I/8.1 (Los Altos: Packard Humanities Institute, 2006). Unfortunately, the latter contains a number of oversights:
Measure 1e (page 94, system 5): at least the second of the two turn signs is misplaced. The manuscript is ambiguous, but the second turn sign is certainly not between bb’ and ab’, as shown in the edition; more likely it should be placed between the following two notes (ab’ and bb’). The position of the first turn is accurately transcribed, but it is probably meant to be played not on the note c” but after it. Incidentally, the note c” appears in the manuscript as a dotted 16th, not a dotted 8th; the latter is a reasonable emendation, but as such it should have been reported in the textual commentary (p. 135).
Measure 1f (page 94, system 6): the 8th rest and the following three notes were originally 16ths in the manuscript, and the next two notes (db”-c”) were 32ds; the note values appear to have been altered, but if so there is no way of knowing whether Bach himself made the changes, and do not seem to be accurately reported in the textual commentary. Not reported at all is the manuscript’s ambiguous position of the turn, which is certainly not over the note bb’, as shown in the edition, but rather on the preceding note a’ or more likely between a’ and bb’.
Measure 1j (page 95, system 4): the “f” (forte) should of course be placed over the bass note E, not under the quarter rest.
Measure 1l (page 95, last system): on the lower staff, the natural sign on b should be changed to a flat sign.
Measure 1m (page 96, system 1): the group of fourteen 16ths starting with tied a’ should be changed to 32ds; the turn over db” should be moved right to fall between db” and eb”; and the last note before the G-flat-major chord should be gb’, not f’. In addition, some of the note values just before the G-flat-major chord again appear to have been altered in the manuscript; the rest was originally a 16th, not an 8th, and the next four notes (f’, f’-ab’-gb’) were all 16ths, with a “3” indicating triplets above the last three (these changes also are not accurately reported in the commentary).
Measure 1o (page 96, system 3): in the upper staff, the 7th and 8th chords from the end of the system, both reading a’/f”, should include as well the note eb”. The following two chords should probably both read bb’/db”/f”, although the manuscript appears to be faulty at this point; the reading of the edition (bb’/db”, bb’/f”) is nonsensical, and the commentary fails to acknowledge the editorial alteration of at least one of the notes in the passage.
Measure 1t (page 97, system 2): the turn sign on ab” should probably be moved to the right between ab” and bb”.
Measure 1v (system 4): The ornament sign appears in the manuscript as a long wavy line with a vertical stroke drawn slightly to the right of the midpoint. The interpretation in the edition as a mordent is probably correct, but the long initial extension of the symbol might indicate a slur from the previous note (b’)–which, incidentally, should probably have been printed in full size, not as a small or “grace” note.
Measure 1x (page 97, last system): the 16th note following the dotted 8th rest is written ambiguously in the manuscript, and although the edition may be correct in printing it as eb”, the commentary might have noted the possibility of reading it instead as f”.