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A Harpsichord Concerto Built for Two

C.P.E. Bach (1714-1788)

It's not often that one harpsichord is heard in concert with orchestra, let alone two! WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on C.P.E. Bach’s Concerto for Two Harpsichords in F major, and two soloists who champion it.

Ton Koopman performs as soloist with Tini Mathot and conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra on WRTI in a performance of C.P.E Bach's Concerto for Two Harpsichords from last March. Listen to the re-broadcast on Sunday, October 9th at 1 pm on WRTI.

Radio script:

Music: C.P.E. Bach, Concerto for Two Harpsichords in F major

Susan Lewis:  J. S. Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, born in 1714, was a great harpsichordist and composed of over 50 keyboard concertos. Conductor and harpsichordist Ton Koopman says his music was original in its time, and is challenging today.

Ton Koopman: You have to be someone who knows the style very well, otherwise it doesn’t work.  

Harpsichordists Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot

SL: Koopman regularly appears in concert with his wife, harpsichordist TiniMathot.  They perform C. P. E. Bach’s Concerto for Two Harpsichords, with their two instruments center stage, side by side.

Tini Mathot: Well, it’s the only possibility for two harpsichords to play together because you have to see each other’s hands...for example in the cadenza we play these trills together, it has to sound like one harpsichord.

SL: The distinctive music of C.P.E. Bach, says Koopman, has both quiet moments and "Sturm und Drang" —  (storm and stress).

TK:  You have this enormous chord of the whole orchestra playing…and charming moments. It's so amazing and so natural and so unnatural as well.

SL:  Ton Koopman is the founder of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir. TiniMathot produces recordings for that group and others, and is a member of the Corelli Ensemble.

Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot talk with Susan Lewis about playing harpischords together, and about CPE Bach's music and its challenges.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.