New Release: Rafal Blechacz Plays Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach is the simple but fitting title of a new album by 31-year-old Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz. The recording, released in February, features Bach’s Italian Concerto, Partita Nos. 1 and 3, Fantasia and Fugue In A Minor BWV 944, and the seldom-heard Four Duets BWV 802-805. (Blechacz offers this description of the Duets). British pianist Myra Hess’ arrangement of Jesus, Joy Of Man’s Desiring rounds out the disk.

Bach’s Italian Concerto in F Major, published in 1735 as the first half or the Clavier-Übung II, is based on the model of the sunny Italian concerti grossi of Vivaldi and Corelli. (Bach made keyboard transcriptions of at least nine of Vivaldi’s concertos. Here is one example). The concerto grosso is built on the interplay of the full baroque orchestra and small groups of instruments. Here, Bach captures all of the drama, dynamic contrast, and dialogue of the orchestral concerto in music written for a single two-manual harpsichord. In 1739, the composer and critic Johann Scheibe wrote:

Finally I must mention that concertos are also written for one instrument alone… There are some quite good concertos of this kind, particularly for clavier. But pre-eminent is a clavier concerto of which the author is the famous Bach in Leipzig. Who is there who will not admit at once that this clavier concerto is to be regarded as a perfect model of a well-designed solo concerto? It would take as great a master of music as Mr. Bach to provide us with such a piece, which deserves emulation by all our great composers and which will be imitated all in vain by foreigners.

The Italian Concerto‘s second movement is filled with a quiet, haunting sense of mystery. A single, lamenting voice rises above a solemn ostinato bass in D minor:

The Presto final movement explodes with joyful, sunny exuberance. It’s a rich, yet compact, drama which unfolds through multiple, conversing voices:

Recordings

  • Johann Sebastian Bach, Rafał Blechacz iTunes
  • Rafał Blechacz’ complete discography iTunes

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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