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.
Since the beginning of it’s existence in 1960, the Slovak Chamber Orchestra has developed into one of the most popular ensembles in the field of classical music in Slovakia, and into one of the principal representatives of the Slovak interpretation art abroad. The idea of founding a string orchestra has risen in the mind of Prof. Bohdan Warchal in the late 50-s, while still a member of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra.
Say what you will about scanty biographical material and uncertain personal links, it nevertheless seems entirely probable that Bach wrote at least some of his sonatas and partitas for violin solo after his first wife's death in 1720. In this second volume of Hélène Schmitt recordings of the works, her performance of the monumental A minor Sonata No. 2 is so passionate, so rhapsodic, and so expressive that the spirit of loss and grief fills the music like inconsolable tears.
This wild recording, the first volume of two covering all the Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin, may well polarize listeners into attitudes of love and hate. French violinist Hélène Schmitt delivers readings of the first sonata and the first two partitas that are nowhere near the mainstream for these celebrated works, which are generally regarded as icons of Bach's intellectual accomplishment and have been subjected to all kinds of numerological analysis.