Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sons of the Father: II

Also on last evening's program were two Polonaises by W.F. Bach, and a Rondo by C.P.E. Bach.

On the face of it the pieces have nothing in common except for one thing:  The most elusive element in Bach's music is its vocalism, an element that is increasingly foreign to present-day musicians, most of whom have never actually sung, but always concentrated only on instrumental mastery.  But it is impossible to play any Bach without noticing the elements of sung usage that are freely interspersed  with elements of instrumental virtuosity.

In the works of each of the sons the vocalism is exposed to an almost unbearable degree:  I call it unbearable when there is a single unaccompanied treble tone at critical moments of a composition, as if I the player and you the listener are being dared to process this one!  In the works of each of the sons there are twists of juxtaposition, completely unprepared musings on the power of single tones to undo you and me completely.

The Bach I used to equate with a kind of powerhouse infallibility, has been quite altered by my entering full-tilt into conversation with his sons, whose music comes pretty close to not making any sense at all on the printed page when read in the way most of us learn to read.