Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Klavierubung, part 1, 3 Partitas
Partita No. 1 in B flat major BWV 825
Partita No. 2 in c minor BWV 826
Ante Knešaurek (1978 – )
Prelude and Fugue
Partita No. 6 in e minor, BWV 830
Tempo di Gavotta
Only many years after completing my studies in Vienna did I become aware of the fact I was a student to one of the world’s best Bach interpreters on the piano, Bruno Seidlhofer. He ended his performing career early and dedicated himself to teaching, but at a younger age, he was an active performing organist, harpsichordist, and pianist. When I was his student, the 1930s recordings were no longer available, but with the advent of new media and technologies they appeared on a YouTube channel – several beautiful recordings of Mozart and Bach. A sentence that he used to repeat somewhat angrily resounded in me for years: today’s pianists do not play enough Bach. Bach was often present in my programs, but I have recently realized that he wasn’t present enough. I haven’t had the luxury to play what I want until recent years, and when I did, I started with my favorite oeuvre, the modestly titled Clavierübung 1 – Six Partitas for Keyboard. Although Bach could not had heard the sound of the modern piano, which developed and changed rapidly within the century of his death, as any brilliant mind he foresaw the development of such an instrument and now we cannot imagine the audio part of Bach’s oeuvre without the numerous recordings made by great interpreters on the modern piano, such as Glen Gould, Edwin Fischer, Friedrich Gulda, Andras Schiff or Grigory Sokolov.
And I ask myself the same question over and over again, knowing that nobody can really answer it: Why is Bach so great, so unique? How could someone compose so much music that is so perfect and so diverse, but still leave such a recognizable signature and code.
I could compare his oeuvre with a view of a starry sky during a clear night, which is always exciting and perhaps monotonous at first, but when you look closer, you discover immense variety and diversity in size, light intensity and the drawings created by certain groups of stars. Along with this astral and mathematical dimension, his works always contain the substantial and human components – each note has content, meaning and importance, and each is covered by a human emotion.