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The Bach thread

computer-audiophile

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computer-audiophile

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O, lucky you!
I made some photos of the great concert in the house of our dear friend Eleni Triada Ioannidou. She is a professional soprano singer.

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The Pianist of the evening: Álvaro Baltanás Meliveos

Álvaro Baltanás Meliveos.jpg


Programm

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Präludium und Fuge gis moll BWV 863

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Klaviersonate Hob. XVII: 49 es dur
  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio Cantabile
  3. Tempo di Minuetto
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Drei Präludien aus Heft II
  1. “La Terrasse des Audiences du Clair de Lune”
  2. “General Lavine <Eccentric>”
  3. “Feux d’Artifice”
Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)
“Triana” aus Suite “Iberia”

PAUSE

Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)
Bilder einer Ausstellung
 

Tremolo

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Pure beauty. A live recording, maybe her last one, she died in november.
 

Aynsley

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Having said that, I find this recording [Well-Tempered Clavier] to have a few Richter eccentricities, for example the C Minor Fugue from book 1 (BWV 847) is played way too fast and aggressive and it almost sounds like percussion. I also think he smooths over the counterpoint for some of the other fugues - if he is trying to make a point, I don't know what it is. You still get the signature hypnotic playing style of Richter which really works with some pieces.
Thank you for opening my eyes to Richter's genius. I listen to so many musical genres that there are huge gaps in my familiarity with any one of them. Getting stuck with one or two favorites, and constantly returning to them instead of exploring further, doesn't help.

I'm a fan of Helmut Walcha and have all his recordings for both organ and harpsichord. According to my Roon database, Walcha's complete Bach organ works and his Well-Tempered Clavier + Goldberg Variations are the most played items in my collection. I occasionally linger, briefly, on other interpretations such as those of Wanda Landowska and Glenn Gould. (Oh, and Simone Dinnerstein's remarkable Goldberg Variations.)

How I missed coming across Svaitoslav Richter's Well-Tempered Clavier I have no idea. It's magnificent. Every piece is an intoxicating experience. I agree with your comment about idiosyncracies in tempo. Very odd, but somehow compelling.

Thank you!
 

asr_jon

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Sviatoslac Richter's moment for me is his E Major fugue from the second book. Tearjerker.

I highly recommend the movie "Richter, Enigma" by Bruno Monsaingeon - the unsung hero is Monsaingeon himself because Richter must have been seriously convinced by Monsaingeon's musical expertise to open up to him the way he did.

There is a hilarious moment when he asserts that he never practised more than 2 hours a day, cut to his wife saying "he sometimes sat at the piano for twelve hours straight" cut back to Richter saying "What is she talking about, 12 hours, nonsense!"

Richter is also on record on Youtube somewhere talking about Handel being underrated - paraphrase "Bach was just a church organist while Handel was riding round London in a carriage".
 

Galliardist

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Sviatoslac Richter's moment for me is his E Major fugue from the second book. Tearjerker.

I highly recommend the movie "Richter, Enigma" by Bruno Monsaingeon - the unsung hero is Monsaingeon himself because Richter must have been seriously convinced by Monsaingeon's musical expertise to open up to him the way he did.

There is a hilarious moment when he asserts that he never practised more than 2 hours a day, cut to his wife saying "he sometimes sat at the piano for twelve hours straight" cut back to Richter saying "What is she talking about, 12 hours, nonsense!"

Richter is also on record on Youtube somewhere talking about Handel being underrated - paraphrase "Bach was just a church organist while Handel was riding round London in a carriage".
Beethoven also stated his belief in Handel as the greatest composer. Bach also tried and failed to meet Handel on one occasion (poor weather as I recall), suggesting he too held him in great esteem.

I've never been sure about "greatest" - I suspect we have to meet each composer on their own terms, which is why I tend mostly to value performers looking to period practice (not necessarily the same as those playing period instruments, and bearing in mind that some of the differences in style we argue about today are the same as always come up in works about music, no matter how old).
 

Aynsley

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Beethoven also stated his belief in Handel as the greatest composer. Bach also tried and failed to meet Handel on one occasion (poor weather as I recall), suggesting he too held him in great esteem.

I've never been sure about "greatest" - I suspect we have to meet each composer on their own terms, which is why I tend mostly to value performers looking to period practice (not necessarily the same as those playing period instruments, and bearing in mind that some of the differences in style we argue about today are the same as always come up in works about music, no matter how old).
I'm not sure about the 'greatest' label either, and find it difficult to understand why Beethoven and Bach should have held Handel in such esteem. But then I have no musical training and wouldn't recognize Handel's subtleties even if they were pointed out to me.

I've never subscribed to the belief that true geniuses are appreciated only after their deaths, when the rest of the world catches up with their innovations.

I'm more familiar with literature than music. Delving into forgotten authors of two centuries ago, I come across many who should have been recognized for their greatness, but were never published, or ended up selling a few hundred copies of their books. And then there are writers who go from strength to strength and end up as required reading in high schools and colleges.

I fell in love with Bach when I heard the Arthur Grumiaux recordings of the Partitas and Sonatas. I find it impossible to compare Bach's work with that of other composers. He's in a class of his own, and the other 'greats' are, well, just different.
 
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Keith_W

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I fell in love with Bach when I heard the Arthur Grumiaux recordings of the Partitas and Sonatas. I find it impossible to compare Bach's work with that of other composers. He's in a class of his own, and the other 'greats' are, well, just different.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about how we go through phases in our lives where we favour certain composers. I went through a Mahler phase, a Beethoven phase, and also Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky phases. But while I was going through those phases, I kept on listening to Bach. I think the other composers wear me down after prolonged exposure to their music. I don't want to feel upset and think about death every night (Mahler). I don't want to think about the war and persecution of people (Shostakovich). There is so much clang-clang I can take (Stravinsky). I am not a young man any more and all that music about unrequited love and frustration with women means less to me (Schubert). Beethoven has more staying power, but his music is definitely not calming or soothing. All the other composers who wrote soothing music had nothing interesting to say. So for me, it's Bach. In fact it's Bach every day.
 

asr_jon

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I'm not sure about the 'greatest' label either, and find it difficult to understand why Beethoven and Bach should have held Handel in such esteem. But then I have no musical training and wouldn't recognize Handel's subtleties even if they were pointed out to me.
The "greatness" refers to Handel's achievements in the sense that, for example, when the King of England, wanted someone to pen him a few tunes for his boating party on the Thames, he picks up his iphone and dials Handel's digits.

Want some tunes for your coronation? No worries, Zadoc the Priest has been sung at every coronation since George II - this was in Handel's lifetime.

This wasn't some tin pot Prussian nobility getting sent scores in the post with humble begging letters i.e. Brandenburg Concertos (which if I could only hear one recording for the rest of my life it would be the Brandenburgs)

As for Beethoven, the poor guy dedicates a symphony to his hero Napoleon only for Napoleon to get basically cancelled for turning into a despot and he has to rename it.

If you were Beethoven or Bach you would be looking at Handel thinking that on any measure of success that you aspired to, George Frederick was really bringing home the bacon....

Now please listen to this and tell me Handel does nothing for you :)
 

BolusOfDoom

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I think what makes Bach great and hard to get tired of is that his music is both logical but unpredictable, like a good story plot. You don’t always know where he’s going, but when you get there it’s beautiful.
 

Galliardist

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George Frederick was really bringing home the bacon....
He was heavily involved and the main composer for two bankrupt opera companies, though. Mozart and Beethoven both had money troubles in their lifetimes as well.

Bach, however, was comfortably able to support and raise a large family in a comparatively untroubled life: sometimes being a comparatively quiet, middle class professional has its advantages.
 
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Keith_W

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He was heavily involved and the main composer for two bankrupt opera companies, though. Mozart and Beethoven both had money troubles in their lifetimes as well.

Bach, however, was comfortably able to support and raise a large family in a comparatively untroubled life: sometimes being a comparatively quiet, middle class professional has its advantages.

Well, his wife did pass away along with a few of his children. Not to mention, he got fired from his Kapellmeister position in Arnstadt for spending a few months with Buxtehude. And he was involved in a sword duel for calling a bassoonist a "zippelfaggotist".

Couple of photos for you guys :)

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Pilgrimage to Leipzig.

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I know he's not down there but I threw flowers on the memorial anyway.

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Bach Museum in Leipzig. There were some original documents on display as well as reproductions (or originals?) of instruments that Bach would have known. I was in Leipzig just before Christmas, and unfortunately missed a performance of the Wehnachtsoratorium in the Thomaskirche.
 

KikoKentaurus

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BWV 11 - Herreweghe - very upstanding, and women choir sounds natural in this performance (which is rare in Bach when you'll hear authentic children choires)

BWV 245 - Harnoncurt - a standart, classic, reference performance... Philosopher S. Zharikov wrote, that Harnoncourts feature is to irritate hearing. How else, if Bach wrote his masterpieces for amateurs; to be performed by semi - professional kids from the countryside? It sounds like it won't get better anyway.

BWV 230 - Gardiner - mostly same as the first one, but different performance and approach

BWV 815 - Leonhardt - for me, 4th French Suite was made only for the sake of that closing Gigue. It's mostly like a rock-piece: lots of headbanging and simultaneously a silent appreciation of Bach's harmonical genius...
 
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JaMaSt

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I had an interesting conversation yesterday about how we go through phases in our lives where we favour certain composers. I went through a Mahler phase, a Beethoven phase, and also Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky phases. But while I was going through those phases, I kept on listening to Bach.
Around the age of 14 or 15 (1983) I started getting into Classical music. I was initially drawn to programmatic and romantic composers. They told a story that I could follow. I'd owned a recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto's but didn't really "get it".

In college while studying architecture I came across the music of Steve Reich (1987). I saw (heard) parallels to architecture. In listening to Reich I began to understand counterpoint, following multiple lines of music, vertical harmony, etc.

Around 1995 Bach just "clicked." And, my God, it blew my mind. I probably bought 150 CD's over the next 10 years.

Unlike Programmatic music, Bach's music absolutely demands that you listen to it over and over and over again. By choosing which line to follow, jumping from one to the other, you MAKE the music as much as Bach did. Bach truly respected his listeners. Appreciation of his music is a "participatory" experience. It's an accomplishment.

It's interesting that you "got Bach" first. It was the opposite of my experience. Looking back I realize how much learning and growing I had to do to even be able to "hear" it.
 
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Keith_W

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When I tell people that Bach wrote the purest music because he is "instrument agnostic", they ask me what I mean. Well, very pure music is the notes alone - it only relies on melody, rhythm, and harmony. It does not require specific timbres of certain instruments to be enjoyable.

Imagine what Chopin would sound like if his music was played on a pipe organ. Chopin is so reliant on the timbre of the piano that if he was played on anything else, his music would fall apart.

Now imagine Wagner on a harpsichord. A great composer for sure, but he relies on the sonority of a powerful orchestra to achieve his effect. Can't imagine the finale for "Der Ring das Niebelungen" on a harpsichord? Yeah, it's impossible.

But Bach? Well, this piece was originally composed for the pipe organ. But it works equally well with almost any instrument it is played on. Here are three versions: wind, organ, and singers. Every version is interesting, and highlights some aspect of the same piece which you may not have noticed in any of the other versions.


And here it is on pipe organ:


And swingle singers:

 
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