Monday, April 28, 2008

Back to Bach

Like most musicians, I have a special fondness for Bach. But there are pieces of Bach that are my particular favorites for various reasons: and they are usually specific reasons. I wonder if other musicians have their particular favorites. These are mine:

The motet Komm, Jesu, komm (BWV 229) because I got to sing it with an adult chorus when I was a teenager.

The D minor Fugue of the second book of the WTC. I remember when when I was a kid we got the Henle edition of the WTC. My older brother declared that the E-minor Fugue was his fugue because it had the longest subject, or something like that. I was forbidden to play it, so I promptly picked the D minor Fugue as mine and I have retained ownership.

The D minor Toccata, BWV 913 because it is so completely limitless and so modern. I didn't hear it until I was an adult, working at a radio station. It was Trevor Pinnock's recording that hooked me.

Cantata 78 because it was my first cantata. I had a volume of tenor arias with instrumental obbligato parts, and the first one in the book was for tenor and flute from Cantata 78. I bought a recording and fell madly in love with the whole piece. My father told me that Cantata 78 was the first cantata he played when he used to play church jobs in Cleveland. I thought that was extremely cool.

The B-flat Partita because of Dinu Lipati's recording of it.

The St. Matthew Passion, for reasons that I simply can't articulate.

The A minor and D minor Violin Concertos, which, when I was a flutist, were forbidden flute-fruit (I always wanted to play them on the flute, but they never sounded right). Now I can play them on the violin whenever I want to hear them.

The Cello Suites and the Violin Sonatas and Partitas. The happiest memories I have from my childhood are the mornings when I would lie in bed and hear my father practice the Bach Cello Suites on the viola. He would also practice the Violin Sonatas and Partitas on the viola, so it took me a long time to figure out what was what.


Lisa Hirsch said...

It's the Ascension Oratorio for me, cantata 11, "Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen." It was the first piece I sang in college, with the wonderful Jim Olesen (still teaching at Brandeis after all these years!) and the very first piece I ever sang with an orchestra. I couldn't believe how wonderful it was, with trumpets and drums and everything.

Michael Leddy said...

The Goldbergs, the Fifth Brandenburg, the Trio Sonata from the Musical Offering, and the three Inventions I can play. : )

Rebecca said...

Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106; mostly for the Alto and Bass duet and the tenor's "Ach, Herr!" slow section

Cantata No. 80 (a nod to my Lutheran upbringing and my first solo in a Bach cantata--although I like 78 too, since I sang the second movement my freshman year of college, out of context from the rest of the piece)

Cello Suites because they are the best example of what happens when you mix a divine instrument and a near-divine composer...

Those are the top three, but the true list is a mile long.

Oh, and incidentally Elaine, you have been tagged. :-)

Elaine Fine said...

Oh dear Rebecca! I'm afraid that I'm the person responsible for introducing this meme in the musical blogosphere, so I won't tag further, but I will grab the nearest book:

"But these pieces are free of any of that kind of wickedness. Instead they are pure good behavior. I find myself longing for a bit more bad behavior when listening to this album, but that is a criticism of Haydn, not of La Petit Bande."

From page 123 of the May/June 2008 American Record Guide that just arrived in todays mail. It's a review of Haydn's Harpsichord Concertos in F and G and the Divertimento in F written by Andrus Madsen

hello said...

I'll say the Aria from Goldberg variations because no matter how many times I hear it, it's a mesmerizing as the first.

Also, the Quonium from the B minor mass. Who knew horn, a pair of bassoons and a baritone could sound so good?

Finally, Jesu Der Du Mein Seele from BWV 78 on John Eliot Gardiner's recording the continuo is almost circus-like in its jollyness. It makes me smile every time I hear it.