My most recent Music-Video Friday feature was Hélène Grimaud’s live performance of Busoni’s Chaconne for Piano in D minor (after J.S. Bach). I expect no argument when I say that that piece was as much about Busoni as it was about Bach; and further, that Ms. Grimaud’s scintillating performance was more at home in the musical world of the Europe of 1890, than of 1720.
#Humblebrag: I played a large role in the production of the première recording (for a label other than JMR) of Leisner’s Sonata for Violin and Guitar, including suggesting a transcription of a Handel sonata for violin and keyboard as the opening piece, and writing the liner notes. I was tickled for us all when Stereophile magazine (this predated my employment there) designated that recording as a Recording of the Month.
One of the last Record to Die For (R2D4) picks I submitted to John Atkinson was David Leisner’s solo recital Favorites (scroll down on the new page). That recording featured Leisner’s own transcription for classical guitar of the D-minor Partita; I think that it is the most successful transcription of them all. Leisner has a keen appreciation for the spirit of Baroque music in general, and Bach in particular.
At the risk of painting with a brush so broad that it won’t fit into the one-gallon can of paint: I think that composers such as Paganini and Liszt (and, to an extent, Busoni) wrote music so they could emotionally excite audiences by showing off their virtuoso technique. Bach, in contrast, wrote music to glorify God, by explaining to people the workings of an orderly and divinely-created cosmos. A non-trivial difference.
So, here is a wonderful live performance from David Leisner, of music that is truly the music of Bach. (And talk about “owning the fretboard.”) You can buy the CD of the studio recording here. Most highly recommended.
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