Wednesday Bach Blogging: Perahia, French Suite No. 4, BWV 815

    A superbly nuanced and graceful performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's French Suite No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 815, by Murray Perahia.

A testament to the enduring and timeless quality of J.S. Bach's music, it's amazing while listening to this French Suite, to remember that this piece is 300 years old.  It sounds as if it could have been written at any time during the last few centuries, and most of it wouldn't be out of place in any modern performer's set list, no matter what the genre.  In fact, a short article written by pianist Alec Templeton in 1943 for the radio station WQXR's program guide, entitled "Bach Is A Modern",  goes into the similarities between Bach's music and the modern popular music of the 1940s; those parallels are no less true today.

And speaking of modern, here's a truly modernistic, almost industrial, vision of the French Suite No. 4, by Glenn Gould:

Mr. Gould's performances were considered revolutionary in the 1950s, and definitely stretched the boundaries of acceptability in interpretations of Bach's work.  Although more than a few critics of the day were tempted to yell out "Whoa, slow down - where's the fire, anyway, Glenn?", it must be admitted that Gould really had a knack for stripping away the sublime and the beautiful, and even the majesty, from J.S. Bach's music, leaving us to marvel at the bare notes, standing alone.  Looking back, it may be safe to say that Glenn Gould's recordings of Bach compositions compare very favorably with how a sewing machine might play those same pieces.

A really nicely done, warm and tonefully recorded, version on harpsichord by Christophe Rousset:

And finally, the incomparable Andras Schiff, who may be ranked among the premier interpreters of Bach's music, today or in any other time: