Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is probably the best composer of music that ever lived. He left an astounding amount of complex and beautiful music for all occasions.
Many people are familiar with Bach’s church music, especially for organ, and think of it as somber sounds that are not much fun. Bachs church music is very special and it has qualities that go beyond the devotional. In addition to this, he wrote exuberant music for secular celebration, wonderous practice pieces and many, many dances.
There is also a type of romantic playing of Bach, which can go terribly wrong, but is extremely beautiful if it is played by people with a deep understanding for Bach and his music. This time I would like to put forward a fairly old recording of the three sonatas for cello and keyboard (BWV 1027-1029). The cello part is played by Mischa Maisky who always has a beautiful sound and a fairly individual way of playing Bach that works spectacularly well. The keyboard part is played by Martha Agerich, who is not a great Bach player, but sounds off Maisky beautifully in this recording.
Normally, Bach should be played with strict attention to time and control of counterpoint. Otherwise it will just fall apart and sound like a mess. A few players have obtained a deeper understanding of Bach and can in fact play him with freedom and respect. Maisky’s angle on Bach is that he was a man of intense feelings. He must have been, as he married twice and fathered no less than twenty children, ten of which survived into adulthood.
Accordingly we meet a Bach played as in love in this recording. The music is light as a summer’s day and time passes almost without a trace as you listen to it. It is a far cry from the challenging organ music that many people associate with Bach and a great way of discovering the greatness and diversity of this absolute genius of a man.
Sound quality is excellent as always with Deutsche Grammophon. You can find some sound clips on Amazon.