C.P.E. Bach's Instrumental "Recompositions": Revisions or Alternatives?

Miller, Leta

With the existence of so many alternative renditions of Bach's works, we need to question the possibility of arriving at any "authoritative version" from the viewpoint of either the editior or the performer. The search for such an "authoritative version" would obviously weigh in favor of composer preference. But even in cases in which it is possible to ascertain such preference, can we count on the composer in all instances to be the best judge of his/her own compositions? Can we assume, in fact, that future generations will necessarily concur with the composer's judgment of revisionary alterations? The new varied reprises in Bach's sonatinas, with their virtuoso keyboard displays, surely made the works "more brilliant," and the addition of horns to the ensemble rendered them more up-to-date, perhaps even more fashionable; but whether they are really "better," as Bach asserts, or whether they merely reflect a later reconsideration of the genre is far less clear.



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Columbia University
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January 23, 2015