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Bach and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

[Classical Music Today] – The sheer novelty of this program was embodied by ‘Bach’s Electric Chords’, Nicholas Kitchen’s string quartet arrangement of Bach’s ‘Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor’, BWV 582, with electronic processing. Warning: If novel reworking of Bach inherently offends you, then read no further.

The passacaglia consists of twenty variations on a theme that Bach famously co-opted from André Raison’s Premier Livre d’orgue of 1688. Many have said that the double fugue in BWV 582 is really a twenty-first variation on that theme—a variation of prodigious, surreal length.

Bach plumbed the limits of the bass melody in BWV 582, to the point where he was able abandon the melody itself from time to time and yet the beautiful mechanism does not quit or fall apart. Emulating Bach’s exploratory spirit, Kitchen pushes the discursive, contrapuntal ‘envelope’ even further. This arrangement is like a string quartet conversation that ranges from one topic to others, to the point where the thread of the conversation matters less than than the flow itself—matters less than the continuation of the self-propelled camaraderie of the celebrants. The piece becomes an expansive meditation on the joy of playing together. There are moments when it is possible to believe in the abrogation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, energy for free, perpetual motion, and Eternal Return. The nature of bowing—as contrasted with keyboards and pedaling—also lends new dimensions to the piece, ones that likely would have pleased Bach himself.

Continued at Classical Music Today | More Chronicle & Notices.

One Comment

  1. wrote:

    I am VERY anxious to obtain a copy of your recording of BWV 582. Please either send me, or tell me where I can get one.

    Sunday, 4 September 2011 at 16:23 | Permalink

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