Puzzle of the Weekend!

I just played on my harpsichord a work I deem one of the masterpieces of 18th century keyboard music, although it is rarely performed nowadays.

This work, arguably too late for the harpsichord era (although the composer produced at least one work clearly labelled for the harpsichord a decade later), and obviously meant for either clavichord or fortepiano, makes nonetheless excellent harpsichord music.

First hint: uniquely, there is a bar where we can hear simultaneously both FF and f’‘’.


Balbastre? Dussek?

Contemporary, of course, but no.
… and I am not aware of any masterpiece by them, although mileages vary …

Neither Scarlatti nor Soler, of course, the only ones who in the same piece would score an FF and a f’‘’ …

I suspect the answer is hidin’ in plain sight.

I suspect you’re Joe-king.

perhaps a sonata by cpe bach or haydn? i suspect the latter

Ah, I have it. As a hint, the top F is the root of a chord with Ab in the bass and the bottom F is the third of a diminished chord - in that order.


Thank you for bringing this masterpiece into our weekend. Without given a spoiler I would say that this great work is written in 1793 for a dear lady who is not the one mentioned as the dedicatee. I played it often on the pianoforte, never on the harpsichord. Will do soon, it could well be a revelation !

If you’re not aware of any masterpieces by Dussek, try on Dussek’s last
sonata, “L’Invocation” for size, at least.


(The MAB edition has some problems, such as suppressing the original
pedal markings on the grounds that they’re old-fashioned. The facsimiles
are very legible.)

A lot of the earlier sonatas (opp 5-18) are extremely decent as well, in
a completely different idiom. Most of the middle-period pieces are
forgettable at best and obviously commissioned at worst.

Dussek is, to put it mildly, uneven as a composer. Balbastre was, I
think, not.

When the two fs are being played almost together 5-octaves apart, the harmony is in F major, although the full passage is in d minor.

It is NOT Haydn.

It was largely ignored by modern players until a modern edition was printed in 1955. I still have a copy, though there are more recent editions.

Reserving for later a final hint that might make the answer just too easy …

And it was not in 1793, it was almost two decades earlier …

That rules out Beethoven Op.13, which certainly does have a bar with FF and f’‘’.

I’ll also note that the famous Haydn Variations in F minor end very conspicuously with those notes sounding simultaneously (with a couple more F’s in between).

Thanks Thomas!
Therefore Haydn’s variations of 1793 are an alternative! I have the complete sonatas but not the variations, mea culpa!

The work I refer to was composed in 1776 … and rendered known to the general public in a recording dated 1962. This was a very successful LP at the time.

The Haydn variations I hinted at were written in 1793 for his most dearest lifetime companion Maria von Genzinger who died shortly before. It is a wonderful large scale set of double variations, ending in F-major, indeed spanning the whole keyboard.

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I assume you are offering a Mars Bar as a prize for the Winner Claudio?

Was the recording in 1962 performed by Ralph Kirkpatrick?

The recording was in a LP that was produced locally in different countries, played by Rafael Puyana on his Pleyel. On YouTube you find a similar recording dated c1964, but I have good evidence that it is a different recording altogether.

Hurry up fellas! I cannot email a chocolate bar, but I can give you tomorrow another (this one easier hopefully) puzzle!

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https://www.discogs.com says the LP date was 1966 - ‘Baroque Masterpieces For The Harpsichord’.

Indeed, it’s another set of variations … don’t let the suspense drive you crazy.

THE SOLUTION! :slight_smile:

Crazy indeed. This looks like the same LP reissued 1962, 1964 and 1966, but I have evidence that the first two are different recordings!

Anyway, anybody can find the solution now by just googling the LP’s name.

So let us give now the solution:
… and the work is the beautiful …
C.P.E. Bach’s “12 Variations über die Folie d’Espagne” H.263!

If there is confusion about Puyana’s recording date, there is also confusion about composition and first publication dates!

IMSLP dates its composition in 1778, first published in 1938.
However, these dates may be in error: I have Hugo Ruf’s edition for German Ricordi of 1955, where Ruf dates the composition in 1776, first published by Traeg in Vienna 5 years after the composer’s death, therefore in 1793.
Yet, incredibly, Ruf may also be in error: several webpages mention this Traeg edition, and all of them date it ten years later, in 1803!

In 1962 Puyana included it in that miscellaneous LP recording on his Pleyel.
It is not the one we can hear today in Youtube (dated c1964), because I remember well that the Theme did not use the 16’, while in the YouTube recording it does.

The 1962 interpretation was very interesting, in spite of the instrument and the registration.
The main shortcoming of Puyana’s recording is that he followed the original score in the Variations but not in the Theme: this is in simple crotchets in the original, and Puyana preferred to play instead the one from d’Anglebert Folies!
He did this again in 1964, where he also introduced further ornaments of his own …

Thanks for the contributions!

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