NEXT TIME:
End-of-Year Blowout
Wed, May 5
Program to include Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries!
and other operatic excesses...

[mostly on hiatus since 2012]

View demo videos here

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Piano Hero: Bach to the Future

All previous Piano Hero events have been about tackling big orchestral works from the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 19th century, especially, pianist-composers were so dominant that even the largest symphonic canvases translate with a certain logic to 88 keys. This week, we look further back to the 18th century and the music of J.S. Bach, who never met anything like the modern piano. Bach was, of course, a great organist and harpsichordist, and his keyboard music is a cornerstone of the modern pianist's repertoire, but two pianos might seem like too much of a good thing for the graceful music of this Baroque giant.

However, an extra set of hands comes in quite handy when trying to manage some of Bach's most intricate creations, so we'll take advantage of the two-piano setup to help untangle the Brandenburg Concerto #3, which in its original form calls for nine separate string parts, and the magnificently austere 6-part Ricercare from The Musical Offering. Although Bach didn't write for ensembles anything like the size of a 19th century symphony orchestra, some of his organ works are just as big and bold in scope, so we'll be closing with a two-piano version of the grand Passacaglia in C Minor.

As always with Piano Hero, the pianists won't have rehearsed much ahead of time, so it will be interesting to see what contrapuntal traps Mr. Bach has in store for them. The doors will be open throughout, and listeners are free to come and go. We'll start at about 12:10 and end around 12:45.

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