Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 90

Thread: Bach: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde??

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    41
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Bach: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde??

    I love Bach, his Harpsichord works, his Organ Works, his Orchestral, his Choral works to me are sublime. To me, no matter what the recording they are Bach and I love it.

    I also hate Bach, sometimes.... recordings of piano works, violin solos, cello solos, very rarely project the sublime genius I associate with Bach, they do not even sound like Bach to my ears, often thick and running with perplexing changes in tempo and/or incomprehensible changes in loudness to sections or individual notes...

    It is as though Bach were two composers in one... an austere genius and a melodramatic attention craving wreck...

    (don't get me wrong, I love thick and psychologically tortured melodrama... Barber's Adagio, Mahler's Adagietto (symph 5), etc... I just don't associate them with Bach)


    Now, which to assign to Dr. Jekyll and which to Mr. Hyde is not so much the conundrum as how to understand how I can love and hate the same composer and how to come to grips with what I perceive as his expression NOT showing through his work as from a single integrated individual ...

    but as some strange dichotomy expressed by a split personality. Was Bach so split? And why is this split almost nonexistent in his Harpsichord, Organ and Orchestral music?
    Is this thing I hear real or am I listening wrong?


    Sincerely

    AvidListener
    Last edited by AvidListener; Apr-15-2021 at 16:28.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Allerius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    3,272
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    It's just a matter of taste I guess. Or perhaps you didn't have much luck with performances of a part of Bach's oeuvre. Personally, I quite enjoy his solo violin and cello pieces and think that some moments of them have a transcendental quality many times not found in some other composers, and his "piano" (actually harpsichord/clavichord) pieces never cease to amuse me.
    “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” - Ludwig van Beethoven.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GucciManeIsTheNewWebern's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Posts
    597
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    If you appreciate the polyphony and complex lines in the organ/keyboard works, listen for the implied polyphony in the solo violin and cello works. It may just click with you.

  4. Likes ORigel liked this post
  5. #4
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    6,098
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    recordings of piano works, violin solos, cello solos, very rarely project the sublime genius
    Bach did not write any "piano works" - these are harpsichord works played on the modern grand. So I'm confused when you say you like his harpsichord works but not his "piano works."

    It is all about taste, since his choral, chamber, solo violin and cello works are among my favorites, whereas the organ and orchestral works are not. I reject your characterization of Jekyll and Hyde since it is entirely in your subjective response to Bach's music that you have creating this dichotomy.

    Welcome to TC.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,979
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    The solo violin and cello suites are moody, introspective music that run the entire gamut of human emotion. Listen to each suite/partita as an examination of a particular state of mind and a kind of psychological narrative within that particular “affect.” Bach is concerned with human as well as sublime matters. The D minor chaconne is a great place to hear this; try to hear it performed by James Ehnes. I think that perhaps you are going into these works with preconceptions of what Bach should sound like, but he has a tendency to challenge your assumptions. If you like the cantatas, I’m surprised that you are averse to Bach’s “psychological melodrama.”
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Apr-15-2021 at 16:59.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

  7. Likes AvidListener, FastkeinBrahms, ORigel and 2 others liked this post
  8. #6
    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Burke, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,551
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    There is nothing unusual about not liking everything a composer composed.

    My favorite composer is Mahler and I can not stand the 'second movement' of his Eighth Symphony. So what?
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

  9. Likes AvidListener liked this post
  10. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    41
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Bach did not write any "piano works" - these are harpsichord works played on the modern grand. So I'm confused when you say you like his harpsichord works but not his "piano works."
    Sorry, I meant "recording of his works played on piano".

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    It is all about taste, since his choral, chamber, solo violin and cello works are among my favorites, whereas the organ and orchestral works are not. I reject your characterization of Jekyll and Hyde since it is entirely in your subjective response to Bach's music that you have creating this dichotomy.
    If there is no such dichotomy in the musical writings of Bach, why would I find his music so different? and why is my taste split by instrumentation?

    I absolutely love the violin and the cello in his Concertos, so it cannot be the instruments themselves.

  11. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    41
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    The solo violin and cello suites are moody, introspective music that run the entire gamut of human emotion. Listen to each suite/partita as an examination of a particular state of mind and a kind of psychological narrative within that particular “affect.” Bach is concerned with human as well as sublime matters. The D minor chaconne is a great place to hear this; try to hear it performed by James Ehnes. I think that perhaps you are going into these works with preconceptions of what Bach should sound like, but he has a tendency to challenge your assumptions. If you like the cantatas, I’m surprised that you are averse to Bach’s “psychological melodrama.”
    I can't express it perfectly but even for the Cantatas (mostly?), there is a constant movement, it sets up in my mind like a locomotive, a train going forward, it can be rather lilting in some pieces or dreadfully relentless in others, even thick, but there is always something clicking into place and driving forward, a kind of perfect progression. Maybe melodrama is the wrong word... but its just the jarring departure from the baroque progression... which I find so often perfect in Bach's works...which I notice. Do the cantatas pause for dramatic effect... or have such extreme changes in tempo or loudness within a section or phrase (sorry not a real musician) as do the solo works?

    And why would Bach write such perplexing and extreme variations in his music?


    I'll take your advice and re-listen to some cantatas. In your opinion which of Bach's cantatas has a good amount of "psychological drama"? (I have all of Bach's cantatas, Hanslers collection with Helmuth Riling).

  12. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
    Posts
    110
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Interesting train of thought. I do not quite follow the notion that Bach had something of a split musical personality, dividing his works in categories to be revered and to be detested. However, I am decidedly of the opinion that some of his output was routine, and more fit to purpose (set by his mostly stingy employers) rather than works of outstanding greatness. Some of his cantata output falls in this category. On the other side, a mind-boggling proportion of his work I find truly great.

    I agree with Allegro con Brio's admiration of the solo violin and cello works. I recently listened to Johanna Martzy's sublime recordings of the violin sonatas and partitas, and found them deeply engaging. The solo works can sound shallow and even boring when played by soloists who treat them as pieces that exist merely to allow them to show off theirs skills.

  13. Likes GucciManeIsTheNewWebern liked this post
  14. #10
    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    31,338
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    There are many sides to Bach's music, but it's all Bach.

    FWIW, I don't find any of his music perplexing or incomprehensible. More time spent with Bach will likely alter the OP's views.

  15. Likes GucciManeIsTheNewWebern liked this post
  16. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    41
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FastkeinBrahms View Post
    Interesting train of thought. I do not quite follow the notion that Bach had something of a split musical personality, dividing his works in categories to be revered and to be detested. However, I am decidedly of the opinion that some of his output was routine, and more fit to purpose (set by his mostly stingy employers) rather than works of outstanding greatness. Some of his cantata output falls in this category. On the other side, a mind-boggling proportion of his work I find truly great.

    I agree with Allegro con Brio's admiration of the solo violin and cello works. I recently listened to Johanna Martzy's sublime recordings of the violin sonatas and partitas, and found them deeply engaging. The solo works can sound shallow and even boring when played by soloists who treat them as pieces that exist merely to allow them to show off theirs skills.
    Is there more "Bach" in the Harsichord and Pipe Organ recordings (performed by soloists) but somehow more of the "soloist" in the solo Violin and solo Cello recordings?

    Does a harsichordist or organist approach the music of Bach in a fundamentally different way?

  17. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    41
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    @Allegro Con Brio

    Thank you for the recommendation, I have listened to The D minor chaconne performed by James Ehnes on Youtube. It's better than I expected but... I am still a little at a loss as to what I am noticing, how to express it... and what if anything to do about it.


    Although I play keyboard and have played pipe organ but I have never performed for people and do not think of myself as a musician, and when I play I am trying to recreate the music... the sounds Bach heard in his brilliant mind when he wrote it...

    for some odd reason I feel that that brilliance comes through better in some kinds of performances than in others.


    Perhaps it has nothing to do with the music Bach heard and wrote, nothing to do with what is written, and more to do with interpretation and performance.

  18. #13
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Ford Nation
    Posts
    5,746
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    The stuff you hate seem to be solo instrumental works. And other than the harpsichord, there are no HIP versions of the cello or violin suites that I'm aware of, and the solo modern instrument players tend to romanticize Bach. Bach also tends to be more virtuosic with the solo stuff, which may be what you don't like.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

  19. Likes AvidListener liked this post
  20. #14
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,979
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    OTTMH Podger and Kuijken for HIP violin, Bylsma and ter Linden for cello
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

  21. Likes AvidListener, premont, Andrew Kenneth liked this post
  22. #15
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    41
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    The stuff you hate seem to be solo instrumental works. And other than the harpsichord, there are no HIP versions of the cello or violin suites that I'm aware of.
    Sorry ... what does HIP mean?


    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Bach also tends to be more virtuosic with the solo stuff, which may be what you don't like.
    Bach's Organ works are filled with plenty of viruosity (that a word?) IMHO, and I love it. There is a complex inescapable pattern in the madness of some of those works (to my ears).


    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    and the solo modern instrument players tend to romanticize Bach.
    This might be the key to the mystery.

    Do you know of any non modern or non-"solo" players who might approach Bach's Cello and Violin solos more like a Harpsichordist or an Organist might?


    I might love all of Bach's music after all....

Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •