Emmanuel Pahud's Bach Suite
On The Bach Hour, the Principal Flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic is joined by his colleagues for one of Bach’s most virtuosic creations for his instrument.
On the program:
Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, BWV 552, "St. Anne" (arr. Max Reger) - Markus Becker, piano
Cantata BWV 138, Warum betruebst du dich, mein Herz? (translation) - Caroline Stam, soprano; Bernhard Landauer, alto; Christoph Pregardien, tenor; Klaus Mertens; Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, Ton Koopman, conductor
Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067 - Emmanuel Pahud, flute; Berlin Baroque Soloists, Rainer Kussmaul, director
Listen to this episode in the audio player above.
Every once in a while, a performer comes along with such charisma and personality that they transcend the presumed limits of their instrument. Among those extraordinary players is the Principal Flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic, Emmanuel Pahud.
J.S. Bach seems to have had a soft spot for the flute, sometimes harnessing its lightness in the service of religious symbolism, and, at other times, finding unexpected shadings and color in concert settings, as in the Orchestral Suite No. 2.
Emmanuel Pahud channels the brilliance of Bach like no other player as the soloist in the Orchestral Suite No. 2, coming up on The Bach Hour.
Hello, I'm Brian McCreath; welcome to The Bach Hour from Classical Radio Boston WCRB, a part of WGBH. The Berlin Philharmonic has for decades been one of a handful of ensembles at the very top of the orchestral art form. And some of those players also perform as the Berlin Baroque Soloists. You’ll hear them, with their Principal Flutist, Emmanuel Pahud, later in the program.
Also on the program today is the Cantata No. 138, Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?, or “Why do you trouble yourself, my heart?” You’ll find a complete translation of that when you visit us online at Classical WCRB dot org.
First, though, here is one of the piano transcriptions by organist and composer Max Reger. Markus Becker is the pianist in Reger’s transcription of the Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, known as the “St. Anne,” here on The Bach Hour.
[MUSIC – BWV 552]
That’s pianist Markus Becker with Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, the “St. Anne,” in a transcription by Max Reger.
The contrast of religious doubt and the security of the divine is a constant thread in Bach’s sacred works. And in the Cantata 138, Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?, or “Why do you trouble yourself, my heart?”, Bach each side of that equation finds expression through specific sounds. <music fade in> The free-form recitatives in the first few movements reflect the ungrounded insecurity of human existence.
That’s answered by choral sections that provide reassuring stability from the divine, and maybe even from fellow believers.
And the rhythmic and melodic solidity of the arias in the second half of the piece express the believer’s transformed outlook, changed by those choral interjections.
These three different kinds of sound landscapes, representing different aspects of the believer’s experience, give us a way into the meaning of the piece that goes beyond the words themselves. The opening line – “Why do you trouble yourself, my heart?” – is so effectively rendered in music that we can feel the desperation through the sound itself. The same goes for the words the bass sings early in the piece – “How can I manage my affairs in peace, when sobs are my food and tears my drink?” – and later on: “My confidence is in God, my faith lets Him govern.”
And if you want to go beyond the sound itself to the words Bach set, you’ll find a translation from Emmanuel Music at our web site, Classical WCRB dot org.
Here is a performance of the Cantata No. 138 with soprano Caroline Stam, alto Bernhard Landauer, tenor Christoph Pregardien, and bass Klaus Mertens. Ton Koopman conducts the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, here on The Bach Hour.
[MUSIC – BWV 138]
J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 138, Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?, or “Why do you trouble yourself, my heart?”, in a performance by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, with director Ton Koopman. The soloists included soprano Caroline Stam, alto Bernhard Landauer, tenor Christoph Pregardien, and bass Klaus Mertens.
When Emmanuel Pahud joined the Berlin Philharmonic as Principal Flutist in 1993, he was not only the group’s youngest member; he was also stepping into a position once held by the legendary James Galway. And Pahud became one of the anchors of the orchestra’s artistic personality. At the same time, he’s cultivated a brilliant career as a soloist, and in that role, he joined some of his colleagues to record music by Bach. Here is the Orchestral Suite No. 2, with Emmanuel Pahud and the Berlin Baroque Soloists, here on The Bach Hour.
[MUSIC – BWV 1067]
That’s Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, with the Berlin Baroque Soloists and flute soloist Emmanuel Pahud.
Remember, if you’d like to hear this program again on-demand, just visit us online at Classical WCRB dot org.
Thank you for joining me today, and thanks also to audio engineer Antonio Oliart Ros. I’m Brian McCreath, and I’ll hope to have your company again next week here on The Bach Hour.