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J.S. Bach Appreciation Thread

tmhuud

Brown Belt
Yes, I agree. The ‘81 recordings are obviously of a more mature Gould and have a certain dignity about them. (Not sure how else to say it) where his ‘55 is very energetic but a bit to sporadic for my taste.

[EDIT/side note] I took a Masterclass on JS Bach with Robert Greenberg in San Francisco. I think the transcripts exist and I think it’s also on Audible somewhere. It’s a truly great MC. But there’s a section where Gould is talking and honestly Robert has to take sentence by sentence and translate what it is (he thinks!) Gould meant. It’s very enlightening! Highly recommended.
 

teclark7

Member
I love a lot of Bach but current favourite recordings to listen to are:

1. Andres Scholl signing Erbame dich from St Matthews Passion:


and

2. Kempff (1975) playing his piano transcription of Herzlich tut mich verlangen BWV 727

 

ptram

Senior Member
I love Bach! I appreciate his career as a soloist, but I admit that I didn't follow him when playing in the band with Telemann and Haendel!

Paolo
 

Brian2112

Active Member
Famous Greek mathematicians use to think that God was a mathematician and that music was a subset of math. As we all know, Bach proved the morons were exactly wrong. God is a composer and math is a subset of music.
Chew on that Michio Kaku!:P;):grin:

*completely unbiased opinion as I am an atheist anyway. :blush:
 
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Jeremy Gillam

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
I saw a comment on YouTube once that was something like: "First there was the music of Bach, and then there was God."
 

mikeh-375

old school
Recent Bach purchase for me was the Art of Fugue played by Angela Hewitt with such repose and poise, complete with a musical intelligence to match what is surely a pinnacle in western music.
We might have lost him to a sword fight when he was younger if it hadn't been prevented at the last minute. Apparently Bach had impugned the bassoonist Geyersbach's abilities and as tempers rose, he called Bach a 'dirty dog; and lashed his face with a stick. Bach drew his sword but the scrap was halted by another student....jeez students eh?
This one sounds apocryphal though..."He was so fond of full harmony that, besides a constant and active use of pedals, he is said to have put down such keys by a stick in his mouth, as neither hands nor feet could reach"
 

tmhuud

Brown Belt
Kempff’s (1975) performing “Herzlich tut mich verlangen” BWV 727 was really heartfelt. I’ve always loved his interpretations. Thanks for finding that.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
Also listening to these, Bach can come across as Uber romantic.

Thats what is so fascinating to me. How many ways you can interpret his work, and it sounds convincing.
Even when they are on polar opposites of the aesthetic spectrum.
I agree Doug. I think the reason for this that Bach's "pure" musical style differs from most media music. Taken over the last, say, 30 years, a good bit of media music latches on to instantly-recognisable emotional associations to do its thing.

There is certainly minimalist or other music in media that avoids that kind of thing. Tom Newman avoids it a lot, as does Philip Glass to a great extent, but a lot of producers / directors / etc. want music that unambiguously leads an audience into a particular "place."

Sometimes that's fine, sometimes it's like an elbow digging in one's ribs saying, "wow! huge!" or "aww, sad" or "here we go." Depending on the movie that can be intrusive or kind of fun.

Maybe the most obvious example is advertising and trailer music? In which typically there is intention from the first note -- conveying time, setting, genre, emotion. It can be done subtly and well, or ham-fistedly, but the intention is usually obvious instantly.

Bach, when set to picture, doesn't really do that unless, I guess, the performance pushes hard in one direction or another. It can simply "be" and allow the viewer to decide what it means.
 

mikeh-375

old school
John....please, some decorum. Bach and movies? Oh dear......;). Although seeing that he considered his music to be a utility, perhaps he wouldn't have minded and besides, all those mouths to feed.
 
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Jeremy Gillam

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
Bach, when set to picture, doesn't really do that unless, I guess, the performance pushes hard in one direction or another. It can simply "be" and allow the viewer to decide what it means.
I think John has some fantastic observations and his quote above might hint at why some of my media composer friends are not as excited about Bach as they are other composers. For myself, the pleasure I take from listening to much of Bach's work is more akin to that which I take from listening to great pop music than to say, Elgar's cello concerto or a great Morricone score that transports you into another world, another time and place. Bach's use of structure, repetition, slight deviations and surprises, to me seem more aimed at the dopamine receptors in the brain than at the heart strings. Which is not to say I don't find his music to be incredibly moving -- I do. It's just a different emotional experience than a lot of film music.

It seems to me some of the emotional ambiguity found in Bach's music might have renewed significance for the more forward-thinking directors and composers who are trying to get away from telegraphing the plot and emotional beats of the story, and instead create a marriage of music and images that leaves room for each audience member to have their own experience.
 
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Jeremy Gillam

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
Thanks for your thoughts @douggibson. I might add that I was mostly thinking of his concerti in my comparison to pop music. I am very unqualified to speak on this topic really so I will shut up and leave the conversation to people who actually know what they're talking about! I'm really enjoying everyone's posts and learning so much. Off to listen to the Mass in B minor now...
 
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