Krebs: Keyboard Works volume 2

Steven Devine harpsichord
resonus RES10100

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Steven Devine continues his splendid performances of Krebs’ keyboard works with this volume which comprises the substantial Overture in the French style (Krebs-WV 820), the Partita in B flat major (Krebs-WV 823) and the Sonata in A minor (Krebs-WV 838) – in all over 77 minutes of expert and beguiling playing.

Devine’s chosen instrument for this recording is a double-manual harpsichord by Colin Booth (2000) after a single manual by Johann Christof Fleischer (Hamburg 1710) at a=415Hz and tuned to Werkmeister III. The singing quality of this instrument is perfectly suited to the music – by turn lyrical, adventurous and complex, and for which Devine is a persuasive champion.

Bach’s favourite pupil, Krebs spans the shift from the essentially florid style of the toccatas and contrapuntal writing of the late 17th century to the gallant and appealing tunefulness of the 18th century. The Preludio and Fuga (tracks 10 & 11) in the B flat Partita give a good idea of the starting point of Krebs’ style, with the bold chromatic modulations, but for his more ‘modern’ leanings listen to Devine’s stylishly elegant Corranta (13). However, it is the genuinely post-Bachian music that is the most interesting to me. The inclusion of the A minor sonata gives us a foretaste of where music was heading with a modern, “Sturm und Drang” opening movement followed by a very grazioso middle movement and a finale full of classical gestures.

As you would expect, the playing is incredibly neat and stylish and blessedly free from those eccentricities which make repeated listening to some player’s recordings so irritating. Devine does us all a great service in producing this collected edition which couldn’t be bettered.

David Stancliffe

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