Starting the Day with Bach
It is said of the great Protestant theologian, Karl Barth, that he began his day with the music of his favorite composer, Mozart.
Readers of this blog know how enthusiastic I am (in a very amateur way) of the “Cantatas” of Bach. I try to play the appropriate ones for the liturgical seasons. However, Lent poses a problem, since the Lutheran tradition did not permit musical performances during the Sundays of Lent. Of course, one could play the several cantatas for Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima which will solemnly and soberly carry one through the weeks of Lent.
However, my current practice is to turn to the six great “Partitas.” I have two sets of recordings: one by Richard Goode and one by (the Bronx born!) Murray Perahia.
One commentator has written of Bach — in comparison to Vivaldi, Telemann, and even Handel: “Bach’s music seems to convey an extra emotive richness, an extra level of humanity.” And Goode himself says:
We may never be able to account for the mystery of what animates his particular utterance and his incredible variety of expression. But, whatever it is, Bach’s music makes musicians feel grounded in a larger world context, rooted to something fundamental. It’s a very personal response, and I think that’s why a lot of musicians start their day playing Bach.