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Johann Ludwig KREBS (1713 - 1780): "Sinfonien & Sonaten"

Leipziger Concert
Dir: Susanne Scholz

rec: December 8 - 10, 2003, Leipzig, Studio MDR, Augustusplatz
Querstand - VKJK 0519 (© 2005) (74'01")

Sinfonia for 2 violins, viola and bc in c minorcdefg; Sinfonia for 2 violins, viola and bc in E flatcdefg; Sonata for harpsichord and violin in Adg [1]; Sonata for 2 instruments and bc in Dadfg [2]; Sonate for 2 instruments and bc in a minorcdfg [2]; Sonata for 2 instruments and bc in b minorabfg [2]

Benedek Csáloga, Mathias Kieslingb, transverse flute; Eva-Maria Röllc, Susanne Scholzd, violin; Lucia Froihofer, violae; Siegfried Pank, cellof; Eckhart Kuper, harpsichordg

(Sources: [1] Sonate da camera, 1762; [2] VI Trio, n.d.)

Johann Ludwig Krebs is a composer of the generation of the sons of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was born in Buttelstedt near Weimar as the eldest of the three sons of Johann Tobias Krebs, who was active as an organist and was a pupil of Bach. Johann Ludwig followed in his footsteps and - after having received his first musical education from his father - became a pupil of Bach after he entered the Thomasschule in Leipzig in 1726. He sang in the choir as a treble and took also lessons at the violin and the lute. He stayed in Leipzig until 1737, assisted Bach - who rated him very highly - in the Thomaskirche and played the harpsichord in the Collegium Musicum. He held three positions as organist, first in Zwickau, then in Zeitz and in 1755 he became organist at the court of Prince Friedrich of Gotha-Altenburg. There he played a very fine organ, built in the late 1730's by H.G. Trost. Here he also composed his instrumental works, for the performance of which he could make use of the court orchestra, which had been developed into a highly skilled ensemble by Georg Benda.

This disc presents some of these compositions, most of which are chamber music. The two Sinfonias are played here with one voice per part, but it is quite possible they were conceived to be played with a (small) orchestra. In his instrumental works Krebs - like Johann Sebastian's eldest don Wilhelm Friedemann - wanders between the 'old-fashioned' style of the baroque era and the new styles of Empfindsamkeit and Sturm-und-Drang.

The three trio sonatas, written for a transverse flute and a second flute or violin with basso continuo, are most close to the traditional baroque style, in which polyphonic and homophonic passages alternate. Two of these - the Sonatas in a minor and b minor are of the sonata da chiesa type, whereas the Sonata in D follows the pattern of the sonata da camera. The Sinfonias are much more in line with the style which was in vogue in Krebs's time and they are comparable to the sinfonias by Bach's second son Carl Philipp Emanuel. The Sonata in A for harpsichord and violin is written in the style of the Empfindsamkeit. In particular the third movement, largo e affettuoso, is an impressive example of the expression which is typical of this style.

The Leipziger Concert give splendid performances of these works. The fast movements are lively and energetic, the slower movements are performed with great sensitivity and the expression is fully exploited. Krebs's instrumental oeuvre is small, but deserves to be explored to the full and I hope this is not going to be the last recording of his output in this genre. Apart from a large amount of organ works Krebs also composed pieces for harpsichord and sacred vocal music. It would be nice if someone would dig out those works as well.

Johan van Veen (© 2009)

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