IMHO the most amazing piece of music of all time
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3TEsknuRIos

    ... beside the body of chant of course

    Music is the scientific proof that God exists

    The mind wrestles with it but is it not the spirit that is enraptured?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    another great performance by Mr. Hill probably much the way Johann played and heard it from his own hands in his own house.

    https://youtu.be/pI5Y_AVULf0
  • Playing Bach on anything other that an harpsichord is ineluctably not Bach. This is not to say that Bach on the piano cannot be self referently beautiful. The featured cerebral and exquisitely nuanced performance by Filippol Gorini is an undoubted example. It is far more reverent than Gould, even mores so than Schiff's, which is marred by uncharacteristic and un-Bachian excess here and there. Bach was, after all, writing for the instrument he knew. On the harpsichord all 'voices' are equal. On the piano one cannot resist the temptation to expressivities which bring to the fore a pianistic palette - astonishingly as beautiful they iare. But, as a lecturer once said, 'playing Bach on the piano is akin to saying that if Caesar had had cruise missiles he would have used them'. How ever! he didn't.

    Such music is indeed a proof of the existence of God. But not more so than an English choir of men and boys or some choice French monks.
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  • Bach was, after all, writing for the instrument he knew.

    He also heard music in his mind that can scarcely be properly realized this side of heaven. He also had clavichords… I suspect he didn’t play the same volume the whole time just because the harpsichord does. I’d bet my right foot that he played with natural musical sensitivity, not entirely divorced from some of the excellent piano renditions that exist today.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • Playing Bach on an early fortepiano, clavichord, or any other of the many keyboard instruments available to him would be a disgrace? I think not. Let's remember that the clavichord, with its ability to delineate individual voices through dynamics, was Bach's preferred keyboard instrument. Also, to play Bach on an Italian or French harpsichord, an instrument that Bach would have certainly rejected in favour of the darker German models he knew well, would be an even greater disgrace in my mind than to play his works on an instrument he simply did not know. However, the former is done all too often by those who would shun a modern piano as "inauthentic".

    (Not to mention that there are many passages in at least the WTK that clearly demonstrate Bach going beyond the limits of the harpsichord/clavichord and require an instrument with a greater sustaining potential, whether Hammerklavier or organ.)
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  • (Half purple)
    So then! The harpsichord is not an expressive instrument?
    Keep your right foot, but I would cherish hearing Bach playing Bach on his harpsichord.
    Or Rameau on his, or Froberger on his, or Frescobaldi on his, or .......
    No doubt it would be the experience of a lifetime.

    Are some of us trying to second guess Bach?
    All this being said, I am deeply moved by some piano performances.
    I have heard Lang Lang play the Italian Concerto on a piano, banging his way through it as if he were playing a Tchaikovsky concerto.
    A high school sophomore could far outshine him and many like him, regardless of his instrument.
    Thanked by 1JL
  • No one said that harpsichords aren't expressive—especially when coaxed by well-trained fingers. But there's no denying they pale in comparison (where expressivity is concerned) to the piano. Heck... they even pale compared to a nice, intimate tracker organ.

    [Don't misunderstand me... I love harpsichords and delight in playing them whenever presented the opportunity.]

    I consider some of these modern, reimagined performances of ancient works (as distinct from deliberate attempts at historical performance) in the same category that I file all the transcriptions of Bach's Toccata in D for full orchestra. They are fine for what they are. I prefer a genuine baroque orchestra on period instruments playing Bach any day... but I don't want the subculture of historical performance to stymie other attempts at presenting the music too. I've been told that there are modern orchestras that avoid performing Bach specifically because critic snobs lambaste them for not doing it on period instruments with historic bowing, etc. etc. etc. so it's just not worth the effort. That is truly sad to hear.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    Some of those "historic" instruments don't have the power to fill a modern concert hall. Many years ago I had a recording of a harpsichord being played in Royal Albert Hall. They had to amplify the thing heavily, I'm sure, for it to even be heard. I like the sound of Baroque recorders but they have no power, either. Many of those historic instruments were designed for more intimate settings and don't work in large spaces.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    Don’t put your waddles in such a kafoofdernick, y’all. Bach can be played on any instrument ancient or modern. The newer instruments reveal that human creativity can never be halted, and that beauty can emerge ever new from what is old.

    As a composer, I write notes on the staff which are simply a guide for the performing artist. If a new instrument comes along in 100 years I would be delighted for humanity to rediscover a work with a new kind of beauty found in its timely presentation. Personally, I don’t think Bach cares much HOW you play the notes but that you play the notes in an artistic and beautifully rendered interpretation.

    The stodginess and rock headed purists of “correct historical performance” to the exclusion of other possibilities is laughable.., and that applies to the schools of chant that strive to stand as king of the hill. Play beautifully and pray from the depth of your being. God is listening with delight.

    Note: it is a shame that mr. Gould insists on humming along with his playing as does the jazz pianist, Jarret. (Although I have seen mention that Jarret may have suffered a malady in that regard)
  • Carol
    Posts: 695
    It is interesting how interpretation can completely change the character of a piece. I have heard the Jupiter Symphony played a few times by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and once by the Handel and Haydn Society on period instruments. The H and H performance was too florid for my taste. It lacked restraint and overshadowed the subtleties. It was the first time I was really aware of the impact of interpretation on orchestral music.

    Also, I know how some of you feel about Mozart, so let's not start up on that.
  • I've been told that there are modern orchestras that avoid performing Bach specifically because critic snobs lambaste them for not doing it on period instruments with historic bowing, etc. etc. etc. so it's just not worth the effort. That is truly sad to hear.

    Not to mention that most of the mainstream period performance crowd deliberately withhold historical information that does not fit their narrative, which is generally more in accord with modern taste than 18th-century taste anyway. The fact that vibrato is banned despite historical advocacy for its use from prominent musical figures, Classical orchestras are reduced to tiny bands when Haydn routinely doubled the wood-winds and favoured huge string sections, 16' harpsichord manuals are seen as unstylistic when they were featured in instruments Bach specifically commissioned, and so on shows that this is nothing more than selective scholarship. I think it's about time that we give up the charade that these performers are trying to mimic a certain historical practice. They are imposing their own sound ethic on the music, drawn from 20th-century ideals rather than 18th-century ones, and and searching for historical support for their ideas after the fact.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    I confess there are aspects of Mozart's arrangement of Handel's "Messiah" that I love, including the orchestration. In terms of significant re-arranging, here's a good example:

    "Uns ist zum Heil ein Kind geboren" // "For unto us a Child is born", with the florid lines assigned to soloists, and the choir providing more effective contrast (that "Wunderbar!" lands so much more emphatically) and only joining the florid lines in the last part:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yIJnjp3DmU
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    They are imposing their own sound ethic on the music, drawn from 20th-century ideals rather than 18th-century ones, and and searching for historical support for their ideas after the fact.


    My biggest objection is those organists who only want to play Bach on those screechy N. German organs. Those were not the organs Bach built or played. The mid-German organs he knew had a more mellow tone.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    To demonstrate why I said what I did in my previous comment, I am posting my Fugue in B Minor, which does not require any particular instrumentation. When counterpoint is composed in its most transparent fashion, the variable of possible arrangements are endless!

    (please enjoy this newly finished production which I completed about an hour ago.)

    http://myopus.com/preview/fugueInBMinor.mp4
  • I clearly need to go to school on composition. I've tried to write anything instrumental even approaching this, and it always sounds like mush, and not very good mush at that.