babel blog


A Bach Christmas
September 4, 2008, 9:34 pm
Filed under: alphabet, music

OK it’s not quite Christmas but it is quite cold here in Manchester. However, my dad came to visit and insisted on playing JS Bach as loud as possible on my freecycle-acquired Wharfdales and I remembered this fantastic series that the Beeb had on radio 3 at christmas 2005. It was called A Bach Christmas and they played the entire complete works of Bach over the weeks leading to Christmas. And, yes I know ‘entire complete’ is tautologous but I wanted to emphasise just how impressed I was that they really did air the whole of JSB’s prodigious output. Not only this, but some inspired mind created the Bach Alphabet – everything from Art of fuge to Zimmerman’s coffee house, it was Quiddity heaven. The entry for Q is quotations, here’s a couple of my favourites:

A village organist on finding Bach playing his organ: ‘This can only be the devil or Bach himself‘.

Douglas Adams: ‘I don’t think a greater genius has walked the earth. Of the 3 great composers Mozart tells us what it’s like to be human, Beethoven tells us what it’s like to be Beethoven and Bach tells us what it’s like to be the universe.’

Bach didn’t write for guitar (my preferred instrument) however he wrote for Lute and many adaptations have been made. Here is some footage of one of my favourite Spanish guitarists, Narciso Yepes, playing Bach on his famous 10 string guitar. The quality of the sound is quite poor but you must be forgiving as this recording is from 1979 and is therefore extremely old (indeed as old as my good self!)

And now I have indulged myself by showing a Yepes video, I cannot resist posting this footage of Segovia. Video footage of Segovia is rare and frequently removed from youtube by the copyrighters – enjoy it while it lasts! In fact listening to this makes me think Segovia is the better guitarist – he makes it sound too easy!

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1 Comment so far
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Narciso Yepes is just a mundane modernist. He plays everything “over-correctly”.
There are a few works that are exceptions, but they are just that: exceptions.

Comment by Mike




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