J.S. Bach Appreciation Thread

Virtual Virgin

Active Member
My take is that Bach seems like such an orthodoxy that some have to rebel against it without any deep inquiry, but as a knee-jerk reaction to being told they are supposed to like it. I also think some don't like to be humbled to the extent that Bach will make you feel once you "realize". Such towering accomplishments as his can make you feel quite small so I think some shut him out as a defense mechanism. I tend to think of appreciation for him as a true test for a musician vs. a non-musician. There is just far too much to learn from his work. It's like living next door to a library or museum and never setting foot in it.

Here's my fav:


Senior Member
I don't see how you could even force yourself to rebel against Bach; it must take a ton of effort!

I can understand being kind of ambivalent about some of the other big names that you're almost required to revere from the period between Bach and Mahler, but you just can't ignore this guy.


Senior Member
This man would compose a 20-45 minute cantata, write out the parts, rehearse the musicians and give a new performance every week!..each one could be the subject of endless theoretical study, besides it's beauty.
People who don't appreciate Bach are clueless..
It's not only that. I come to the conclusion while playing his music, that he was a Jammer. If he was in the mood he took a violin and if not, he took the luth. Changing instruments, trying out new instruments, new tunings, experimenting, rewriting his own compositions, giving different performances every time. A true FULL-BLOOD-MUSICIAN.

I think people who don't understand Bach are not so deep into complex music. It's like reading an difficult book. Plus, many musicians hate to play Bach, cause you have to take out all your ego while playing and still you have rehearse every passage again and again to reach the virtuosity. Somewhat ironic??

Picasso put it better: It took me 4 years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

Same goes for Bach.


I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
When I was very young I thought Bach was a little calculated and scholastic. Then someone played me this and I heard how dumb I was. A fantastically expressive piece of music (and supernaturally amazing player):



Senior Member
My favourite Goldberg (performed on a modern piano, that is) — and I collect Goldbergs like crazy — is David Jalbert, on Atma Records. Perfect performance, I find. (I’m not a Glenn Gould fan, I must confess. Not at all.)

And my favourite Goldberg transcription (for string orchestra) — also one of my all time favourite Bach recordings tout court and even a desert island disc for me — is by Bernard Labadie and his Les Violons Du Roi, released on Dorian Records. Sublime. (Labadie also transcribed and recorded Die Kunst Der Fuge, but for some reason, that didn't come out quite as well. To my ears anyway.)

Undisputably outstanding (in my opinion, at least): Igor Levit (on Sony) in the 6 keyboard partitas (also great in the Goldberg Variations), András Shiff performing Das Wohltemperierte Clavier (on ECM), Amandine Beyer & Gli Incogniti in the violin concertos (on Zig-Zag Territoires), Hopkinson Smith in the Suites For Lute (on Naïve Records), Piotr Anderszewski in the English Suites (on Warner). And my preferred version of the harpsichord concertos is still Hogwood, conducting the Academy of Ancient Music with Christophe Rousset as soloist (on L'Oiseau-Lyre). Another great Bach performer: Zhu Xiao-Mei. Try the French Suites (Accentus Music).

Pity Ivo Pogorelich hasn’t recorded more Bach.

Tried many recordings of the Cello Suites (from Pierre Fournier and Maurice Gendron upwards to the present day), and I always end up with Pieter Wispelwey’s 1998 recording on Channel Classics. Maybe not the definitive version, but certainly very, very good.

For the Viola da gamba Sonatas: Zipperling and Bauer (on Aeolus). Second choice: Leonhardt and Kuijken (on Harmonia Mundi).

A very good H-moll Messe — all still mere personal opinion, obviously — is the one by the Freiburger Barockorchester, conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. And of the 11 or so recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos I have, the one by the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin is the one I listen to most often. Both of these are on Harmonia Mundi.

In the Matthäus Passion, Harnoncourt remains a strong contender, but here too, I prefer Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, conducted by René Jacobs (again Harmonia Mundi). And there’s no way around Masaaka Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan in their recordings of the cantata’s (on BIS Records) of course.



Active Member
It's unfortunate that Bach never thanked Vivaldi for giving him so much inspiration, or did he?


Senior Member
I actually did a Electronic Remix/cover of Bach's Fugue in Cm back when I first started out, as a part of a university class. The mixing is terrible though, but playing around with this masterpiece with synths was great!



old school
"People who don't appreciate Bach are clueless.."

I wouldn't go that far personally Yani, because an individuals aesthetics plays a big part, but I understand the sentiment. If anyone spends a good few years learning how to write fugues and mastering double and triple counterpoint then they'll gain technical insight into what is involved, especially when attempting to turn exercises into decent music. Then appreciation of Bach goes through the roof. I still marvel at the perfect marriage in his work of intellect, inspiration, technical brilliance and above all, sublime music.

Virtual Virgin

Active Member
"People who don't appreciate Bach are clueless.."

I wouldn't go that far personally Yani, because an individuals aesthetics plays a big part, but I understand the sentiment.
You could also refer to the preference of having arms and legs over not having them as an "aesthetic" choice if you wish.


Big NKS Fan !
My heavily-enjoyed 'Bach Playlist' is Goldberg Variations featuring both Glenn Gould and Simone Dinnerstein.

It never ceases to amaze and impress !
Jeremy Gillam

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
The '81 versions seem a little more refined to me and the higher fidelity recordings are nice too. Interesting how you can hear him vocalizing as he plays in both renditions!