Malcolm Kemp Posted May 19, 2009 Share Posted May 19, 2009 This was one of the first "big" organ works of Bach that I learned over 40 years ago. I have played it many times at recitals and after services and, as one might expect, my way of playing it has changed over the years although not, perhaps, as much as one might have expected or as much as my interpretation of some other Bach works has changed. This morning my breakfast and Suduko solving were rudely upset by Radio 3 playing a performance of this work by Ton Koopman. I have to admit that I don't hold Koopman up as being one of the great interpreters of JSB organ music but his performance of the B minor disturbed me greatly. I haven't had time yet to analyse precisely what I didn't like about it apart from it sounding disjointed, shapeless and lacking any sense of flow. However, it did remind me of a talk I heard recently by Gordon Stewart when he mentioned, among many other fascinating things, JSB's key associations. He claimed that B minor was, for JSB a sad, melancholy key, giving "Erbame dich" from the Matthew Passion (that aria being IMHO the finest piece JSB ever wrote in any genre) as his prime example. He suggested - perhaps provocatively - that the P&F in B minor should be played quietly although I have never heard anyone do this. Where, I wondered at the time, does this leave the B minor Mass? I have head Gordon Stewart talk about Bach before and on both occasions he has referred to the falling semitone as the "suspirans tristis" which is entirely logical and yet I've never come across it being so called anywhere else either in books or on-line. NEither Williams nor Wolfe refer to it in this way. Any comments from our more erudite Board members, please? Malcolm Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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