CD BAM 2004

         Bach |  soloist | notes| mp3 sample 

The Music of
Johan Sebastian Bach

the belair collection

Bach’s music was already considered old-fashioned before he died and nothing was published for fifty years after his death. In spite of that, composers and writers that followed him did not forget him and acknowledged his genius. His music has been in the mainstream repertoire ever since the early nineteenth century when a 20 year- old Felix Mendelssohn conducted a brilliant performance of Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion in Berlin in 1829. Both Mozart and Beethoven were greatly inspired by Bach’s music and when Mozart heard Bach’s work Singet dem Herrn in neues Lied in Leipzig in 1789, nearly 40 years after Bach’s death, he is said to have cried out, “Now here is something one can learn from!” Mozart demanded to see the entire collection of unpublished motets owned by the choir school where Bach had worked and spread the parts around him. When Mozart came to write his Requiem he included a fugue on the Kyrie eleison as an act of homage to Bach. Beethoven called Bach the father of harmony. “Not Bach (“stream” in German), but Meer (sea), should be his name.” The non-musical Goethe said Bach’s organ music sounded “as if eternal harmony were conversing within itself, as it may have done in the bosom of God just before the creation of the world.”  The musicologist Alfred Einstein said: “When the angels play for God they play Bach, but when they play for themselves they play Mozart – and God listens in.” 

Chopin paid tribute to the 48 preludes and fugues of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, often called “the Old Testament” and the composer-journalist Robert Schumann campaigned for a Bach monument and a complete edition of his work. Brahms was devoted to Bach from a young age, composing organ preludes and fugues in the same style. Liszt elaborated and transcribed a number of his keyboard pieces and Wagner called him “the musical miracle man.” As if this were not enough, Bach’s influence continued into the 20th century as a shadow not only behind neo-classicists like Stravinsky, Busoni and Max Reger, but also behind the atonal music of Arnold Schoenberg. Today, according to the editors of The New Bach Reader, Bach is omnipresent. “The further we climb in our own musical education, the higher the
mountain of Bach’s music thrusts its peak into the sky.” Bach has been transcribed to jazz by Jacques Loussier and Keith Jarett and synthesized by Moog. He has been turned into rock by Sting and Elvis Costello and his influence can be heard in the solo improvisations of Irish fiddle players. Even those who are not familiar with Bach’s music easily recognize some of his music like the Air on the G string, made famous first by a cigar advertisement and later used as the basis for Procul Harum’s 1960s hit A Whiter Shade of Pale.   Many a church wedding is graced by Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring and the lovely Sheep may Safely Graze, extracted from one of Bach’s 200 cantatas. The dramatic organ Toccata in D minor has shaken the foundation of many churches and the themes from The Well-Tempered Clavier, transcribed to popular pieces, repeatedly appear in contemporary “crossover” albums. Perhaps Bach was the summation of all who preceded him and the greatest influence on all who followed him. The spell of inspiration and influence cast by Bach continues into the second millennium.  Many regards to Bach, the composer, as the greatest of all time.

What are suites? The term ‘suite’ has been used to describe different kinds of collections - from a group of rooms leading from one to another to a set of matching furniture. The musical suite shares similar features, with different movements having their own structure, function, and place in the overall sequence, but linked together by the same musical ideas and the same key. The basis of the instrumental suite was the dance. The idea of linking together contrasting dances goes back to around 1400. At first, the slow stately pavan, in duple time, was paired with the fast triple galliard. Later new dances began to appear and the allemande, the courante, the sarabande and the gigue replaced the pavan and the galliard. Although French influence predominated, it was a German composer, J.J. Froberger, who is credited with forming these different dances into a regular pattern that formed the basis of the instrumental suites of Bach and Handel. In the writings of Bach, the suite reached the height of its development as Bach contributed not only his orchestral suites but also those for violin, for cello and the keyboard suites such as the English Suite No.5 and Partita No.5, recorded on this album.

Johan Sebastian Bach (1685 -1750)

               Italien Concerto BWV 971

      English Suite No. 5 BWV 810 Partita No. 5 BWV 829


First movement
Second movement
Third movement 




Passepied I & II

2:08 4:29
2:28 3:01


Tempo di Minuetta


Playing Time 56:52

Valeri Grohovski, Solo Piano
download digital quality MPEG3 sound sample 
Free sample from  Partita No. 5, track no.10

 DDD Digital Recording. Moscow Radio Studio Five,  1/2002 
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