B-W Bach Festival

Last week I got to attend the annual Bach Festival at my alma mater, the first time since I was actually in it as a senior in 1979. (I was the brass choir director that year, you could look it up.)

I spent the whole day Friday there, touring the Bach Institute and enjoying the first two concerts.

The Bach Institute had some wonderful things from its vaults out on view for the open house, including the first edition of the St. Matthew Passion, and several manuscript pages in Bach’s own hand.

And it was a gorgeous day to sit out and listen to the brass choir.

Bach in the day, we weren’t allowed up in the tower so we played on the patio of Merner-Pfeiffer hall across the way (where this photo was taken from). This year, they had a really good student quintet sitting out on the sidewalk, and the larger group — led by my old friend Jack Brndiar — up in the tower alternating numbers with them.

The first concert was a piano recital by Jenny Lin featuring excerpts from the Well-Tempered Clavier alternating with Preludes and Fugues by Shostakovich. The Shostakovich pieces where great — I’d never heard them before — in particular the last one (D minor?). On the other hand, we were chatting at dinner about the soloist’s lack of any real performance-practice knowledge; for example, not showing any signs that she recognized the D major fugue as a french overture.

But I’m quibbling. The concert was fascinating, and since I’ve already got recordings of the Bach P&F, I’ll be shopping for her recording of the Shostakovich set.

After dinner, the evening concert offered a mix of small-group choral pieces followed by the wonderful Third Orchestral Suite. Cleveland Classical ran a review that pretty much hit it on the head.

The program notes told of a set of five-part Schutz pieces that I’ll need to look up; maybe there’s a brass quintet transcription lurking in there somewhere waiting to be realized.

Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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