Masaaki Suzuki, conductor James Gilchrist, Evangelist (tenor) Aki Matsui, soprano Damien Guillon, alto Zachary Wilder, tenor Christian Immler, bass
Bach Collegium Japan, chorus & orchestra
March 15, 2020, at Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
On March 15, 2020, Bach Collegium Japan made its debut at Kölner Philharmonie without an audience because of COVID-19 spread. It was just before all the lockdowns all over the world. Together with all the experts and kind cooperation of the Kölner Philharmonie, our performance of J. S. Bach's St. John Passion was live broadcast through Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and more than 250,000 people watched it worldwide. Fortunately, all the artists could go home safely and stayed healthy in isolation. We will not forget this concert under such unusual circumstances.
The film was conceived loosely as a live action musical animation, reminiscent of the system used in music animation software such as Stephen Malinowski’s Music Animation Machine.
Domestic and pertinent objects, common in the still life genre, were sourced and used within a structure mostly defined by the music.
The music is the Toccata from the first part of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, by Johann Sebastian Bach, one of his most famous compositions and a startling and surprising piece of music. Often mired in controversy, the authorship of Bach himself was questioned by musicologists from the 1960’s onwards because of the piece’s unusual structure, not seen in music of that time. It is performed by Peter Hurford in the 1976 album, Bach: The Great Organ Works.
The film is an exploration on the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself. The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor has a cinematic history going back to the silent film era, when orchestras played music to films. The piece became often used in the horror genre and famously as the opening to the 1970’s film Rollerball.
From Disney’s Fantasia to The Phantom of the Opera, the opening of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, performed by Leo van Doeselaar for All of Bach, has provided many memorable moments. The secret is in the striking first note, followed by that brief, tense moment of silence and the overpowering descending series of notes (or variations on it, like in Pirates of the Caribbean). Unfortunately, Bach’s own score has not survived, which has led to many speculations on the creation date of this wild and original composition that is actually not very ‘Bach-like’.
Recorded for the project All of Bach on October 8th 2013 at St Martin's Church, Groningen. If you want to help us complete All of Bach, please subscribe to our channel http://bit.ly/2vhCeFB or consider donating http://bit.ly/2uZuMj5.
All of Bach is a project of the Netherlands Bach Society / Nederlandse Bachvereniging, offering high-quality film recordings of the works by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society and her guest musicians. Visit our free online treasury for more videos and background material http://allofbach.com/en/.
Leo van Doeselaar, organist - Organ: Arp Schnitger, 1692
Bach's G major prelude has captivated cellists and music lovers for years. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein deconstructs it. Bach's six cello suites are considered a rite of passage for cellists. They're masterpieces of classical music, and the prelude in G major — the first movement of the suites — is perhaps the best example of Bach's power as a composer. In it, he's able to achieve rich and complex harmonic movements with just a four-stringed instrument, while using the very basic tenets of music composition. Those basic tenets are what Alisa Weilerstein, a renowned cellist and McArthur fellow, helps us understand.
J. S. Bach: Magnificat ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Chœur du Concert D’Astrée ∙ Emmanuelle Haïm
I. Magnificat ∙ II. Et exsultavit ∙ III. Quia respexit ∙ IV. Omnes generationes ∙ V. Quia fecit mihi magna ∙ VI. Et misericordia ∙ VII. Fecit potentiam ∙ VIII. Deposuit potentes ∙ IX. Esurientes ∙ X. Suscepit Israel ∙ XI. Sicut locutus est ∙ XII. Gloria Patri et Filio ∙
hr-Sinfonieorchester – Frankfurt Radio Symphony ∙
Emőke Baráth, Sopran ∙ Lea Desandre, Sopran ∙ Damien Guillon, Countertenor ∙ Patrick Grahl, Tenor ∙ Victor Sicard, Bass ∙
In the Concerto for three harpsichords in D minor, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society for All of Bach, Bach plays with monophony and polyphony. It is a solo concerto, but then for three harpsichords. Sometimes all the instruments play the same melody, but then they go off on their own again. And even when they follow their own path, there are still always lines played by two, three or four hands together. When the harpsichordists are actually all playing something different, their instruments still sound like one big combined instrument. - Recorded for the project All of Bach on October 15th 2017 at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam.