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CHAN 0762
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CHAN 0762

Bach J.C.: Six Sonatas, Op. 5

The Classical Shop
release date: September 2009

Originally recorded in 2008


Sophie Yates



St Georges, Brandon Hill, Bristol


Gary Cole


Gary Cole

Record Label



Early Music

Total Time - 66:53
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  Six Sonatas, Op. 5 (1766)  

Sonata I, Op. 5 No. 1, W: A 1

  in B flat major - in B-Dur - en si bémol majeur  
1 I Allegretto 5:06
2 II Tempo di minuetto 3:25

Sonata II, Op. 5 No. 2, W: A 2

  in D major - in D-Dur - en ré majeur  
3 I Allegro di molto 6:32
4 II Andante di molto 4:07
5 III Minuetto 3:17

Sonata III, Op. 5 No. 3, W: A 3

  in G major - in G-Dur - en sol majeur  
6 I Allegro 5:32
7 II Allegretto 5:26

Sonata IV, Op. 5 No. 4, W: A 4

  in E flat major - in Es-Dur - en mi bémol majeur  
8 I Allegro 6:57
9 II Rondeaux: Allegretto 4:28

Sonata V, Op. 5 No. 5, W: A 5

  in E major - in E-Dur - en mi majeur  
10 I Allegro assai 6:11
11 II Adagio 3:05
12 III Prestissimo 1:55

Sonata VI, Op. 5 No. 6, W: A 6

  in C minor - in c-Moll - en ut mineur  
13 I Grave – 3:08
14 II Allegro moderato 3:18
15 III Allegretto 4:26

Besides many operas and works for the concert hall, Johann Christian composed keyboard music of a predominantly light character. Much of this keyboard music was intended for social purposes but these pieces should not be regarded as second-rate. The virtues of Johann Christian’s keyboard works were aptly summed up by Leopold Mozart in a letter to his son: The small thing is great, when it is written in a naturally fluent and light style and when it is efficiently put in a composition. To compose in this way is more difficult than to write all the artificial and incomprehensible harmonic progressions and hardly performable melodies. [...] This distinguishes the master from the bungler in detail.

Johann Christian left two suites of sonatas, Op.5 and Op.17, each containing 6 sonatas, composed for keyboard solo.  Both suites bear the title For the Harpsichord or Piano Forte, but this present recording is one of the only available performances on harpsichord.  

Suite Op.5 was designed to explore and showcase the capabilities of the then relatively new pianoforte, and was played in public at the Hanover Square Concert rooms to a fascinated London public on a square piano by Zumpe. Karl Geiringer, in his book Die Musikerfamilie Bach, regards the Sonata in C minor Op.5 No.6 as one of the most eminent works by Johann Christian.  

This charming collection of classical sonatas is elegantly played by Sophie Yates.  Described by Gramophone as ‘hugely talented’ and by BBC Music as playing ‘with exceptional poise’, Sophie Yates began her early musical education at Chetham’s School of Music and progressed to the Royal College of Music and the Sweelinck Academie at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam. Having won the international Erwin Bodky competition at the Boston Early Music Festival, she toured and broadcast throughout the eastern states of America, and now performs regularly around Europe, the United States and Japan

“…These early sonatas may not be music you will listen to often, but Yates does them justice, and makes them well worth hearing. Recommended.”

Jerry Dubins


Fanfare - March/April 2010

“Here are JC Bach’s Six Sonatas, Op 5, performed by Sophie Yates on a particularly lovely sounding harpsichord. The tone is light, powdery and effervescent. …Yates plays with poise and reserve. …”

 Benjamin Katz

American Record Guide - January/February 2010

“Yates proves herself delightfully susceptible to the ready charm of Bach’s sonatas. Her phrasing is elegant and her virtuosity impeccable. There is plenty of expressive variety in the music and not all of it is as technically straightforward as it sounds – a true Bach family trait.
Bach’s early years in London were notably successful and his music was eagerly sought by all who aspired to heights of fashion and good taste. It is not hard to see why, as this irresistibly communicative recital demonstrates. Plaudits are in order for composer and performer alike.”

Nicholas Anderson

International Record Review - December 2009

“Yates always lets the music speak for itself and this recording will do much to promote the composer as well as bringing pleasure to listeners.”

Noel O’Regan

Early Music Review - November 2009

“Sophie Yates has already recorded a number of critically acclaimed CDs for the Chandos label, and this rewarding release is richly deserving of equal status. The harpsichord sound is rich and non-fatiguing, and you would have to have a serious harpsichord allergy not to be able to listen to and appreciate the music and these wonderful performances beyond any negative predisposition for plucked resonance. The recording is stunning: detailed and spacious at the same time, a real delight. Sophie Yates’s strength, beyond superlative technique, is in allowing the voice of the composer to speak with a directness and clarity which is unaffected and natural. J.C. has a glint in his eye on the cover of this CD, and Sophie looks out at us from the back of the booklet with a look filled with comparable intelligence and wit. These are two artists connected by comparable creative sensitivity, and the evidence is clear from the music on this excellent CD.”

Dominy Clements


“Bach’s Sonata’s are enormously appealing and Yates brings out their ingenious charm with natural grace and a fluent virtuosity which avoids anything in the nature of overstatement or empty gesture. Yate’s elegant phrasing is a constant source of pleasure. It is not hard to see why, for the genial style of JC Bach is irresistible and Yates communicates it with affection and expressive warmth.”
Performance *****     Recording *****

Nicholas Anderson

BBC Music Magazine - November 2009

“Sophie Yates confirms her credentials as one of Britain’s most talented harpsichordists.”

Daily Telegraph

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