Benjamin Grosvenor and Bach's Eternal Ebullience
The British pianist infuses Bach's Partita No. 4 with rhythmic verve and nuance, and Ton Koopman conducts the Cantata No. 96, on The Bach Hour.
On the program:
Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D, BWV 1069 (arr. Brazilian Guitar Quartet - Brazilian Guitar Quartet)
Cantata BWV 96 Herr Christ, der einge Gottesohn (translation) - Deborah York, soprano; Franziska Gottwald, alto; Paul Agnew, tenor; Klaus Mertens, bass; Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, Ton Koopman, conductor
Partita No. 4 in D, BWV 828 - Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
[MUSIC – BWV 828-3 opening]
When we refer to Bach’s music is “timeless,” we’re saying, essentially, that it never gets old. The qualities of the music itself are such that, when we encounter a new interpretation of that music, it feels like we’re hearing it for the very first time.
British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor magnifies that effect more than most, with reviewers describing his performances as “poetic,” “brilliant,” and “exquisite.” He chose the Partita No. 4 for his first recording of Bach’s music, and you’ll hear his bracing interpretation, coming up on The Bach Hour.
Hello, I’m Brian McCreath. Welcome to The Bach Hour from 99-5 WCRB. Benjamin Grosvenor had just turned 21 when he recorded Bach’s Fourth Partita. And if he’s like most musicians, his approach to that piece – and all of Bach’s music – will change as he grows. But his approach right now is thrilling and beautiful, as you’ll hear later on.
Also on the program today is the Cantata No. 96, Herr Christ, der einge Gottesohn, or “Lord Christ, only Son of God.” You can find a translation of that piece from Boston’s Emmanuel Music at our web site, Classical WCRB dot org. That’s also where you can also hear this and past programs on-demand. Again, that’s all at Classical WCRB dot org.
Bach’s four surviving Orchestral Suites are some of his most popular works in our day, and it’s tempting to wonder how many more suites the composer wrote that didn’t survive the centuries. Here is a rich re-imagining of what we know as the Orchestral Suite No. 4, performed by the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, here on The Bach Hour.
[MUSIC – BWV 1069]
That’s Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 4, in an arrangement and performance by the Brazilian Guitar Quartet.
In 1724 Bach used the skills of a local flute virtuoso to explore Christ’s dual identity as both divine and human in the Cantata No. 96, Herr Christ, der einge Gottesohn, or “Lord Christ, only Son of God.” The opening puts the emphasis on the divine, as the choir is joined by a high-pitched recorder for the words, “He is the morning star, / His gaze extends far and wide / and is more brilliant than other stars.”
Then the tenor sings a believer’s prayer for faith, accompanied by the darker, more earthly sound of a transverse flute.
You can find a translation of the text for this piece at our web site, Classical WCRB dot org.
This performance of the Cantata No. 96, Herr Christ, der einge Gottesohn, features soprano Deborah York, alto Franziska Gottwald, tenor Paul Agnew, and bass Klaus Mertens. Ton Koopman conducts the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, here on The Bach Hour.
[MUSIC – BWV 96]
The Cantata No. 96 by Bach, Herr Christ, der einge Gottesohn, in a performance by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, and conductor Ton Koopman. The vocal soloists included soprano Deborah York, alto Franziska Gottwald, tenor Paul Agnew, and bass Klaus Mertens.
Benjamin Grosvenor was born in 1992 in a small seaside town in the southeast of England. And just as he turned 21, he recorded Bach’s music for the first time. It’s a performance that Gramophone magazine links to an earlier piano legend by writing, “Dry-as-dusts may rattle their sabres but, like Horowitz, who confounded the pundits with his crystalline Scarlatti, Grosvenor creates his own authenticity, revelling in music of an eternal ebullience and inwardness, and erasing all notion of faceless sobriety.”
This is the Partita No. 4, performed by Benjamin Grosvenor, here on The Bach Hour.
[MUSIC – BWV 828]
That’s pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, with the Partita No. 4, his first recording of music by Bach.
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.