Wanda Landowska brought the Goldbergs out of hiding on the harpsichord in the '40s and Glenn Gould made them a bonafide hit on the piano in the '50s, opening the floodgates for keyboardists of all stripes. So, in one of his earlier recorded voyages into the classical world, Keith Jarrett is up against an imposing legacy as he tackles what has become the most famous set of variations in Western music. First, he chooses to play them on a double-manual harpsichord – which makes the task somewhat easier, avoiding the finger-tangling cross hand difficulties that can trip up a piano performance.
Jarrett plays brilliantly.
Personally, I love Jarrett's playing; he is one of the most sensitive and lyrical of contemporary pianists, and his long illness has deprived us of what would surely have been a larger body of baroque music recordings. So make your own mind up.
I highly recommend this collection to lovers of Bach, Jarrett and the diabolical harpsichord.
Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett has recorded Bach before, on both piano and harpsichord. His interpretations are not jazz versions of Bach but are played straight. In this case you might say relatively straight, for Bach's sonatas for violin and keyboard, BWV 1014-1019, were written for a harpsichord and are generally played that way; somehow the ear is jarred more by the piano here than in Bach's solo keyboard music (which Jarrett has also recorded). Jarrett fans will find the evidence of his characteristic style not in rhythmic inflections toward jazz but in his way of sustaining notes, which is never excessive.
No composer looms over modern jazz quite like Johann Sebastian Bach, whose harmonic rigour seems to have provided the basis for bebop and all that followed. Listen to the endlessly mutating semiquavers tumbling from Charlie Parker’s saxophone and it could be the top line of a Bach fantasia; the jolting cycle of chords in John Coltrane’s Giant Steps could come straight from a Bach fugue and Bach’s contrapuntal techniques crop up in countless jazz pianists, from Bill Evans to Nina Simone. Bach certainly casts a long shadow over US pianist Brad Mehldau: even when he’s gently mutilating pieces by Radiohead, Nick Drake or the Beatles, he sounds like Glenn Gould ripping into the Goldberg Variations. Which is why it comes as no surprise to see Mehldau recording an entire album inspired by Bach. However, this is not a jazz album. Instead of riffing on Bach themes, as the likes of Jacques Loussier or the Modern Jazz Quartet have done in the past, After Bach sees Mehldau using Bach’s methodology. Mehldau plays five of Bach’s canonic 48 Preludes and Fugues, each followed by his own modern 21st-century response.
Two of vibraphonist Gary Burton's albums from 1969-1970 are reissued in full on this single CD. Burton teams up with pianist Keith Jarrett for five numbers (including four of Jarrett's originals) in 1970, using a quintet that also features guitarist Sam Brown, bassist Steve Swallow, and drummer Bill Goodwin. The other session has more of an avant-country flavor, with Burton, Swallow, and Goodwin joined by guitarist Jerry Hahn and violinist Richard Greene; Michael Gibbs and Swallow contributed most of the obscurities. Burton was at his most explorative during this period, which is why he can be considered one of the pioneers of fusion (although his music never really fit into a tight category). This is excellent music that mostly still sounds fresh.
The present release is the second solo album of the young German guitarist Elise Neumann. She chose to combine two seemingly different composers on this album: J.S. Bach and Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco. While at first one might have difficulty drawing a connection between the two composers, they are alike in their compositional forms. Like J.S. Bach, Castelnuevo-Tedesco wrote music in the form of the suite, but his musical ideas are completely different. Elise Neumann plays with her acclaimed warm and soulful tone on a rare instrument built by the luthier Daniel Friederich in 1969. On this recording, instrument and player form a perfect team, establishing a most natural, effortless and deeply musical interpretation of these well-known works.
More than just a challenge to orthodoxy.. . Why should music ‘before Mozart’ now be the sole preserve of period-instrument orchestras? For some years now, Ensemble Resonanz has challenged this idea, without ever neglecting the notion of the sheer pleasure to be derived from the concertos and symphonies of the great C. P. E. Bach. Like their guest soloist Jean-Guihen Queyras, all the musicians master both styles of playing (on metal or gut strings) with dazzling virtuosity. This is the first disc on harmonia mundi to celebrate their collaboration with maestro Riccardo Minasi.