Anacortes Arts Foundation

All-Star Bach

November 12, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Croatian Cultural Center, 801 Fifth St., Anacortes
$25 per person; cash or checks at the door.
Pandemic protocols observed. Vaccinations and masks required.

This performance is SOLD OUT

For reservations and inquiries go to CONTACT on the website.

Tamara Friedman and Jeffrey Cohan  1700's Lautenwerck  1700's Lautenwerck with tuning pins in place

Enjoy the unique sounds of a 1740s Lautenwerck (gut-strung harpsichord) as historical flute virtuoso Jeffrey Cohan and keyboardist Tamara Friedman traverse the rich repertoire of solo and chamber music of the Bach family.

The concert will open with Johann Sebastian Bach’s sprightly and invigorating Partita No. 1 in B-flat major, BWV 825, for solo Lautenwerck.  Two pieces by Bach’s most illustrious sons contrast with this High Baroque work: a sparkling early Classical Sonata for Flute and Keyboard, op. 2, by Johann Christian Bach, and the entrancing Sturm und Drang Sonata in A minor for solo flute, Wq. 132, by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.  Closing the concert will be Johann Sebastian Bach’s brilliant and deeply moving Sonata in D minor, BWV 527. 

La Conner resident Tamara Friedman, praised for the depth, wit, and humor of her performances (Seattle Times), attended the Oberlin Conservatory and received her master’s degree from the Mannes College of Music (NYC).  She has collaborated with such international artists as Stanley Ritchie, Jaap Schröder, and Max van Egmond, and regularly appears with violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock as Duo Amadeus.  In the Pacific Northwest she has performed on the Seattle Camerata, Allegro Baroque and Beyond, Belle Arte, Early Music Guild, Gallery Concerts, and Mostly Nordic series and for the Governor’s Chamber Music Festival.  Tamara has been the featured performer in early piano workshops for Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA) and the Western Early Keyboard Association.  In the summers she is a regular on the Kennebec Early Music Festival in Bath, Maine.   

In 2017 Tamara moved to La Conner, where she and musicologist George Bozarth have created the Skagit Early Keyboard Museum, which welcomes professional and amateur musicians, piano teachers and their students, and the seriously curious to learn about and play on the instruments in their large collection of historical pianos (1780–1869), virginals, clavichords, and the Lautenwerck heard on this concert. 

Jeffrey Cohan, who, according to the New York Times, “can play several superstar flutists one might name under the table,” has received international claim as one of the foremost specialists on flutes of the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.  A resident of Anacortes, Jeff has performed extensively in 25 different countries on five continents and in the South Pacific and has won the Erwin Bodky Award in Boston and the Flanders Festival International Concours Musica Antiqua in Brugge, Belgium, two of the most prestigious awards for performers of early music. With degrees from the University of Washington and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, he has been on the faculty of the Indiana University (Bloomington), the University of Northern Iowa, Augustana College, and Grinnell College.  Jeff is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Salish Sea Early Music Festival, which each spring performs its series of concerts in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, and Vancouver, on the San Juan Islands and the Olympic Peninsula, and here in the Skagit Valley.  His extensive research in European and American archives has yielded numerous important unpublished late 17th- through early 20th-century compositions which he has premiered.

Bach and the Lautenwerk - Information compiled by George Bozarth

Over the period from the mid-15th century to the mid-18th century many references were made to gut-strung instruments called Lautenwerke that resembled the harpsichord, but imitated the delicate, soft timbre of the lute, including its lower-sounding variants, the theorbo and chitarrone.  Unfortunately, there is little concrete information about these instruments.  Not a single Lautenwerck has survived, nor is any contemporary depiction known, apart from a rough engraving of the early 16th century.  Fewer than ten Lautenwerck makers are known by name, and only two or three of them left us reasonably detailed descriptions of their instruments. Nonetheless, the instrument is mentioned fairly frequently in music books of the early 17th to the mid-18th centuries.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s second cousin, Johann Nicolaus Bach, was a composer, organist, and instrument maker in the German city of Jena.  He built several kinds of Lautenwercke.  The basic type closely resembled a small wing-shaped, one-manual harpsichord of the usual kind.  It only had a single stop, but this sounded a pair of strings tuned an octave apart in the lower third of the compass and in unison in the middle third, to approximate as far as possible the impression given by a lute. The instrument had no metal strings at all.

According to contemporary accounts, even this simplest of versions made a sound that could deceive a professional lutenist – a fact considered almost miraculous at the time.  But a basic shortcoming was the absence of dynamic expression, and to remedy matters Johann Nicolaus Bach also made instruments with two and three manuals, whose keys sounded the same strings but with different quills and at different points of the string, thus providing two or three grades of dynamic and color.  He also built theorbo-harpsichords with a compass extending down an extra octave.

Johann Sebastian Bach's connection interest in the Lautenwerck was considerable.  He likely valued the combination of softness with strength that these instruments can produce, and he is known to have drawn up his own specifications for such an instrument to be built for him by Zacharias Hildebrandt.

In an annotation to Jacob Adlung’s Musica mechanica organoedi (Musical Mechanics for the Organist, 1726; published in 1768) Johann Friedrich Agricola described a Lautenwerk that belonged to Bach:

The editor of these notes remembers having seen and heard a "Lautenclavicymbel" in Leipzig in about 1740, designed by Herr Johann Sebastian Bach and made by Herr Hildebrand, which was smaller in size than a normal harpsichord but in all other respects similar.  It had two choirs [or sets] of gut strings, and a so-called little octave of brass strings.  It is true that in its normal setting (that is, when only one stop was drawn) it sounded more like a theorbo than a lute.  But if one drew the lute-stop (such as is found on a harpsichord) together with the cornet stop [perhaps an undamped 4' brass stop], one could almost deceive professional lutenists.

The inventory of Bach's possessions made at the time of his death reveals that he owned two such instruments, as well as three harpsichords, one lute, and a spinet.

The use of gut strings is of primary importance in a Lautenwerck.  However, simple replacement of metal strings with gut will not give satisfactory results.  The lower pitched strings of the Lautenwerck are thicker and under less tension.  Thus Lautenwercke are often smaller than their metal-strung cousins. Extreme shortening of the strings, in comparison to the harpsichord, reduces the tension a Lautenwerck must bear. Lighter construction is thereby made possible, enabling a Lautenwerck to respond better to the less energetic gut string.  This is especially true of the soundboard, which can be half the thickness normally found in harpsichords.

As gut strings have more internal friction than their metal counterparts, they generally sustain less.  This allows one to dispense with dampers to a large degree.  Individual instruments will dictate where dampers are needed (and how effective they need be), but one rarely finds Lautenwercke fitted with dampers on every string.  Any resulting "over-ring" enhances the lute-like effect.

One final difference: Harpsichords normally have one jack per string.  Lautenwercke often have more than one jack independently serving the same string.  Tonal variation is achieved by plucking the string at different points along its length.  That is the case with the Lautenwerck you will hear on this concert.