I have listened to countless recordings of Bach (mostly on the piano) by now, and I have grown really fond of Igor Levit. His playing is very clean and crystalline, which is how all Bach music should be played, in my opinion.
Glenn Gould and Andras Schiff are good of course (they are probably more popular too), but my personal taste probably lie toward that of Igor Levit.
Another pianist I admire is David Fray, who did wonderful interpretations on the keyboard concertos.
As much as I want to start to work on the Goldbergs first, they are way beyond my level even though I have played piano for years when I was a child. And I want to seriously progress in the keyboard now, so I will do my best to tread carefully and intelligently.
Let’s start with Bach’s 2-part inventions. And the easier ones first.
The ones that I can play HT (hands together) slightly fluently together are no.1 in C, no. 8 in F, and no. 13 in a.
Difficulties that I have with these pieces (which probably will be true for all the Bach pieces):
- counterpoint (to play different voices convincingly and beautifully on the same instrument, e.g. left hand for one voice, right hand for another, unlike many other pieces which only require the left hand to be an accompani·ment to the right hand)
- the many modulations which mean the main key of the piece changes a lot, so a lot of accidentals come and go, which may be frustrating at times
- awkward fingering: unlike other composers who are more pianist composers like Chopin, a lot of Bach’s keyboard music has very awkward moments for fingers
- ideas are dense and there is not much room for error
- there is also not much room to rest too, e.g. one of the Bach’s pieces has triplets on the RH throughout almost the whole piece (WTC I’s d minor prelude)
I need to master and memorise these first three pieces before I feel comfortable to move on from them. This will take effort and time.
I am now obsessed with J S Bach’s music.
When I was teenager, I was obsessed with classical music, and would spend all my allowance money on boxes of classical music. But somehow things got in the way and throughout the transition to adulthood (I can’t say I am a full adult yet, I am always childish) I forgot about classical music. Pop and country music somehow dominated my mind whenever music was ever involved with my life.
Anyways, I have decided that maybe my next blog posts will be about my journey back to classical music, especially Bach’s music. I play the piano, so I will focus on his keyboard works first. Like the Well-tempered Clavier, Inventions & Sinfonias, Partitas, French Suites and so on.
Few things that help me with this journey:
- Yamaha electronic keyboard (unfortunately I do not have the resources for a Steinway, although I have the fortune to practice on one for a few years, years ago, but this electronic keyboard will be sufficient especially the touch is in fact quite similar to a real one – the keys are fully weighted)
- Spotify (subscribing to Spotify means that I have the whole library of classical music in my hands; how times have changed)