Once again I’ll be off the air for a while during the time we are moving up north. From Central Victoria to the Sunshine Coast. Since we are house-sitting while we search for our new home, I won’t have access to my music collection (unless I do some ‘cloud solution’ real soon!) So … here is a sublime send off.
I only ‘discovered’ Bach French suites and his Preludes and Fugues recently. My Bach collection has been lacking for a long time!
What glorious music, and perfect to de-stress during moving!
I purposely did not do any research for this post; deciding not to read what the critics had to say about the Brandenburg Concertos. I think you only need an ear (or two) and a heart to appreciate how great they are!
In my ongoing musical education J.S. Bach somehow got sidelined. This was due to several factors: Extensive research into the piano masters of the past (especially as regards Chopin interpretations) A focus on wind instruments, fairly in-depth investigations of Haydn and Brahms; and most recently an obsession with Beethoven.
Even 5 or 6 years ago when I began my Classical Music Quest I glossed over Bach. I’ll try to include more of his music on this site in the future.
Concerto #4 in A major for Oboe D’Amore and Strings
Someone writing a review for an album on Amazon wrote:
The Bach solo string music is, of course, one of the landmarks of classical music. These are some of the greatest pieces of music ever written. They are the musical equivalent of the plays of Shakespeare.
Well … personally I’d have to say I’m not crazy about it (solo violin). I Much prefer the addition of piano which I feel softens what can sometimes be a grating intensity.
These few selections would have to be up there with the best of the best because afterall it is Bach, and its Hillary Hahn playing; whom “they” rave about!
Here’s another example of how interesting it is when a composer does ‘transcriptions’ of another’s work. (*for more, see the Post titled, “Great Composers pay tribute to other Greats”)
Here are 3 movements from Bach’s Partita #3 for solo violin in E major – transcribed by Rachmaninoff for piano.
First the original violin followed by piano. (*after the music read a more in depth analysis of Rachmaninoff’s effort)
Nobuko Imai_08_Partita No. 3, BWV 1006 I. Preludio
Idil Biret_06_01_J. S. BACH Prelude, Gavotte and Gigue Prelude
Nobuko Imai_10_Partita No. 3, BWV 1006 III. Gavotte en Rondeau
Idil Biret_06_02_J. S. BACH Prelude, Gavotte and Gigue Gavotte
Nobuko Imai_13_Partita No. 3, BWV 1006 VI. Gigue
Idil Biret_06_03_J. S. BACH Prelude, Gavotte and Gigue Gigue
With a few exceptions, Rachmaninov was generally quite faithful to the source music of his transcriptions. In this Bach effort, however, he added contrapuntal parts and harmonies because the original was written for solo violin. Yet the music has a mostly Bachian flavor and some have surmised that Bach himself would have made very similar modifications had he fashioned a keyboard version. That said, there are more than a few snippets of Rachmaninov’s voice in this effort, especially in the opening prelude where there are echoes in the contrapuntal writing of some of the Etudes-Tableaux and the first movement of a work to come in 1940, the Symphonic Dances. The prelude is lively and light, busy with typical joyous Bachian contrapuntal activity. The ensuing Gavotte is even lighter and playful — gracefully dainty, actually — just the kind of music not expected for Rachmaninov to have a hand in. The closing Gigue is also light, but Rachmaninov gives it a little muscle in his bass harmonies. He also makes it quite a colorful affair, all of its nearly two minutes brimming with an infectious joy.
In this LONG PLAY selection – J.S.Bach provides the perfect “background music” for mundane tasks! Cleaning out that junk drawer, ironing (does anyone iron anymore?!), gardening or just wandering around the house wondering what to do next. His Goldberg Variations provide the background. First the Aria, followed by 8 of the variations.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t give up! There is a pause before the music kicks in on this one. About 10 seconds.
Goldberg variations by 9 Andras Shiff.mp3
UPDATE: see the comment on this one. My “source” slightly retracted his claim that Shiff was “the man” for Bach piano! So let’s hear Gould do the Aria.
What an incredible difference 20 plus years can make in the life of a musician! First we hear how Glenn Gould played/interpreted this piece by Bach (Goldberg Variations BWV 988 / Aria) in 1955 or 56; and then again how he played it in 1981.
What happened? There is an almost double – or half – the length of play in the two version. Did he just get older and slow down? (the 1980’s version) … Or – Did more evidence emerge as to what Bach intended?
Hmmm. Fascinating to compare the versions. I certainly enjoy, and feel Bach’s Spirit more in the later version. What do you think? Leave a comment if you wish.
Here is “Come Sweet Death” by J.S. Bach. (*performed by Frederick Swann – who was Virgil Fox’s main student/acolyte. Virgil Fox himself the only interpreter of Bach’s organ works I would choose to listen to! ; although he was a very controversial figure in the Organ world*)
Mr. J.S. Bach. Some say the Greatest of them all. As he neared death he composed this piece. To my ear it’s the sound of the Soul passing into the unknown Beyond. IF I had great bass speakers, and IF I knew when I was dying! … I’d love to hear this. PLEASE persevere through the early ‘morbidness’! – because The Soul’s lift-off is coming. (***Warning: If you don’t have great bass speakers you might be disappointed. I’ve never heard this on a proper sound system. It’s probably one of those pieces you’d have to hear in ‘person’. Be prepared to adjust volume!