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Born on 12 October 1713 in a small town in Thuringia, Johann Krebs was sent to study violin, lute and organ in Leipzig. He spent nine years (1726-1735) furthering his musical education at Thomasschule, where J S Bach was Kantor. Considered one of the best students, he also played the harpsichord under the Master's direction. For the next two years he attended Leipzig University, and in 1737 he left this city to take up a position as organist at the Marienkirche in Zwickau. There he met Johanna Sophie Neckens, daughter of a civil servant, and very soon they got married.
In 1744 the couple moved to Zeitz, and in 1755 Krebs accepted a position, also as organist, at the court of Prince Friedrich of Gotha-Altenburg, where he remained until his death on 1 January 1780. Krebs was famous for his mastery of this instrument and also as an accomplished composer, and the majority of his pieces are all devoted to the organ, even in spite of a considerable amount of church, chamber and harpsichord music.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, a new musical aesthetic and a different style started to take place. The Empfindsamkeit (the sensitive style), typical of the Enlightenment, was starting to tilt the balance away from the 'Baroque'. It's interesting to note that, while the two Bach sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedmann, embraced and developed the new trend, Krebs remained anchored in the teachings of their father. In his music we can clearly discern the influence of the Master, which echoed so much that we can trace back the origin of his ideas both in macroscopic and microscopic structures. Indeed, the corpus of Krebs' harpsichord music is modelled on Bach.
Listen — Johann Ludwig Krebs: Fuga (Partita II in B)
(CD1 track 2, 0:00-1:00) ℗ 2021 Brilliant Classics :
This issue is supposed to encapsulate all of Krebs' works for the harpsichord, but the soloist believes that one day other works by the composer will see the light of day for further evaluation of this rare but very stimulating repertoire. Michele Benuzzi proves his extraordinary musicianship with some inspirational playing, and his dedication to this repertoire is such that he is able to make of this collection a joyous work of art.
Listen — Johann Ludwig Krebs: Allemande (Suite II in B minor)
(CD3 track 3, 0:00-0:47) ℗ 2021 Brilliant Classics :
Indeed, his interpretations are brimming with colour, energy and rhythmic beauty, making Krebs' music sound as passionate as any of his esteemed contemporaries.
Listen — Johann Ludwig Krebs: Allegro assai (Sonata in A minor)
(CD6 track 17, 2:14-3:14) ℗ 2021 Brilliant Classics :
These are rare keyboard works, true, but it's worth taking the plunge, especially if you are keen enough to discover more about one of J S Bach's most distinguished pupils. I have no qualms whatsoever about sound quality and booklet notes.
Copyright © 25 August 2021
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