Friederici

Leipzig houses one of the finest collections of early keyboard instruments anywhere. Amongst many, an unfretted clavichord with five octaves made by Christian Gottfried Friederici in 1765 stands out. His instruments, like those of his brother Christian Ernst, were highly praised by some of the best players and composers of the time. The Mozart family owned at least one of their making, as we can gather from a fragment of a letter in which Leopold writes to his son explicitly not to mention this fact to the celebrated pianoforte-builder Johann Andreas Stein, who supposedly was jealous of his Saxon colleagues.

Friederici's clavichords were also praised by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach who even preferred them to those of the Hass family of Hamburg, because, as he writes in a letter, of the action, and because Bach couldn't stand Hass' octave strings in the bass. It even seems Bach owned a clavichord by Christian Ernst himself.

 

This copy, made by Matthias Griewisch, uses solid oak like the original for both case and lid. The stand feels delicately modern because of its slender design. This instrument effortlessly convinces in works by F.J.Haydn (later sonatas), W.A.Mozart (Fantasia in d, Adagio in b) and of course in works by the celebrated sons of J.S.Bach. Whose works by the way, like those of G.Böhm, J.A.Reincken, D.Buxtehude and others, can be performed on it with considerable success. Playing the clavichord is like asking for the strictest judgment in all things concerning technique and musical understanding. And let's not forget J.S.Bach's own words, as he writes in the preface of his Inventions and Sinfonias: "…above all a singing style of playing…". Doing exactly that is the biggest challenge for any player!

 

Or in the words of C.Ph.E.Bach, as he writes in his most excellent treatise on the true art of playing keyboard instruments: "Therewith, the clavichord is the instrument upon which one can most precisely judge a keyboard-player".  

 

Duly noted.