»Excepting the many kinds of keyboards which either remain unknown because of their defects, or because they are not yet widely used, there are mainly two kinds of keyboards: the large keyboards [harpsichords] and the clavichords, which were up to now very successful. [...] The new pianofortes, if they are well built and resistant, have many advantages [...]. They are appropriate for solo playing, and for ensemble playing that is not too loud, but I believe nevertheless that a good clavichord, except for the fact that it has a weaker sound, has all the beauties in common with the pianoforte as well as the advantage of the vibrato and the support of the sound, because with the clavichord, I can, after the attack, still give emphasis to each note.« (Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, 1753).
Johann Nikolaus Forkel claims that the clavichord was also the favourite instrument of Johann Sebastian Bach (Über Johann Sebastian Bachs Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke, 1802). It would appear that Bach made an important contribution to the success of the instrument. His compositions for keyboard, like the Inventions, Sinfonias and theWell Tempered Clavier, were initially designed for the clavichord as training studies for the new technique of Bach's touch, which has so often been described until 1860. Without Bach's technique, the incredible development of the clavichord and the growth in the repertoire for this instrument during the second half of the 18th century would not be imaginable. It has a soft sound, but also an inexhaustible wealth of sound colours. The large unfretted clavichords built from the first half of the 18thcentury are perfectly appropriate for accompanying, thanks to their great flexibility. The combination of the flute and the clavichord is ideal in relatively small spaces, because the clavichord never covers the soft sound of the flute, and follows its refined inflections in a very subtle way. The clavichord of our recording is built in the style of the great Saxon tradition founded by Gottfried Silbermann.
One speaks relatively rarely about Johann Sebastian Bach with respect to the pianoforte. It is often believed that the development of this instrument begins only in the second half of the 18th century, but one can date its origins to early in Bach's time. Recent research estimates that the history of the pianoforte begins in fact even earlier in the past, a long time before the »invention« of mechanics with hammers by Bartolomeo Christofori, and perhaps already existed during the early 17th or even during the 16th century.
The use of a pianoforte to play chamber music pieces by Bach with obbligato keyboard parts is thus justifiable not only on historical grounds, but also, in our opinion, for musical reasons. At that time, the harpsichord accompaniment for soft instruments like the flute, was already considered problematic. Silbermann solved this problem by the development of his cembal d'amour (a sort of clavichord with double length of strings) and later with his pianofortes. The flute sonatas by Johann Sebastian Bach can be convincingly performed using a Silbermann pianoforte, as this instrument marries so well with the traverso.
It is difficult to choose one ideal type of flute to play the flute sonatas by Johann Sebastian Bach —. the diversity of these sonatas is too large. The four sonatas which are clearly identified as from Bach's hand do not come from one homogeneous cycle and they do not have any chronological relationship or specific stylistic similarities. Moreover the choice of the instrument depends not only on musicological considerations, but also on the circumstances surrounding the performance: the acoustics involved and the personality or the state of mind of the interpreter.
In E major the flute sounds particularly soft and delicate, and the clavichord, which was the preferred instrument of the composers of the Empfindsame Stil, provides an ideal accompaniment for the two continuo sonatas in the intimate environment of the hall of Flawinne castle, which has relatively little resonance, but excellent acoustics nonetheless. The two sonatas with obbligato keyboard parts raise other questions. They are probably adaptations or transcriptions of pieces which originally were not intended for the flute. The soft and rich sonority of the pianoforte almost envelops the sound of the flute. The instruments mix perfectly well.
Born in Budapest, BENEDEK CSALOG studied at the Franz Liszt Conservatory with Tihamér Elek, then at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague with Barthold Kuijken. He performs throughout Europe, in the United States, Brazil, Japan and the Middle East, and he is regularly invited to play as soloist at the important early music festivals. He won first prize at the Baroque Flute Artist Competition in Orlando in 1995 as well as first prize at the Musica Antiqua competition in Bruges in 1996. He has recorded many CDs as a soloist for Hungaroton and several German labels. Benedek Csalog teaches the baroque flute at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Leipzig, and regularly gives master-classes in Europe and Japan. He is a guest professor at the Franz Doppler Institute in Budapest and artistic director of the Summer School for Early Music in Tokaj.
Born in Budapest, MIKLÓS SPÁNYI started studying organ and harpsichord at the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Budapest with Ferenc Gergely and János Sebestyén. He continued his studies with Jos Van Immerseel at the Antwerp Conservatory and Hedwig Bilgram at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich. Miklós Spányi performs as soloist throughout Europe, playing the organ, the harpsichord, the clavichord, the pianoforte or the tangent piano, and as a continuo player and leader of many ensembles. He won first prize at the international harpsichord competitions in Nantes (1984) and in Paris (1987). For the past several years, Miklós Spányi's work as a player and researcher has been focused on the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: he has edited many pieces published by Könemann Music and he has collaborated on the new complete edition of the composer's work. He also helps to promote the favourite instrument of C. P. E. Bach: the clavichord. Miklós Spányi has made many recordings, especially for the labels BIS (complete work for keyboard by C. P. E. Bach) and Hungaroton Classic(Tangent Piano Collection). He teaches at the Oulu Conservatory and at the Sibelius Academy in Finland.