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