"A fascinating concept, brilliantly realised." Five stars. (Colin Clarke in Classical Music)
"The sheer historical value of the album is immeasurable, but its musical value is certainly no less....The ensemble treats every piece on this recording with such intimate care that it is easy to imagine the fascination, even joy, Levy might have felt playing this music herself." (Karen Cook in Early Music America)
"Sensitively played...a rousing performance." (Michael de Sapio in Fanfare)
Until recently, the Jewish salon hostess and performing musician Sara Levy (1761-1854) was almost entirely unknown—suppressed, perhaps, because of her religion and gender. Yet she formed a crucial link between the generation of Johann Sebastian Bach and that of her great-nephew, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, whose revival of the St. Matthew Passion in 1829 ignited a public Bach revival across Germany. A keyboard virtuoso who studied with Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, as well as a collector and patron of music, Sara Levy sought to forge a common musical tradition that would be accessible to both Christians and Jews at the dawn of European modernity.
This music on this recording includes works that Levy kept in her collection, and that she is thought to have played or commissioned. She synthesized a wide range of music, keeping past traditions alive and initiating new styles and performance practices. This recording imagines a program of chamber music of the sort that Levy might have played in her salon or in her private, family-based music-making. Included are works by Johann Sebastian Bach in rarely-heard instrumentations that Levy is known to have used, as well as solo and chamber pieces by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Johann Nikolaus Forkel.