All of Bach is Putting Bach’s Complete Works Online: 253 Done, 827 to Come

Mem­o­rably syn­the­sized by Wendy Car­los (and mem­o­rably beloved by A Clock­work Orange’s Alex DeLarge), J.S. Bach’s Bran­den­burg Con­cer­tos epit­o­mize the play­ful verve of so much Baroque music. The Con­cer­tos “dis­play the lighter side of Bach’s imper­ish­able genius,” writes NPR; “few musi­cal works are as loved—and as often per­formed” as the six spright­ly instru­men­tal pieces. And of those six works, the fourth, Con­cer­to in G major, is per­haps the most beloved, and most rec­og­niz­able, of all. Thus it makes a fit­ting ear­ly entry in the expand­ing archive that is (or will be) All of Bach, a site intend­ing to fea­ture live per­for­mances of all 1080 of Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach’s works, per­formed by the Nether­lands Bach Soci­ety. We’ve drawn your atten­tion to the admirable effort before, and we hap­pi­ly do so again to cel­e­brate their 150th offer­ing, a per­for­mance of Was Gott tut, das ist wohlge­tan (see a short, cel­e­bra­to­ry video announce­ment below).

The last time we checked in with All of Bach back in April, the site had uploaded only 53 per­for­mances. Since that time, they’ve added oth­er pop­u­lar favorites like The Well-Tem­pered Clavier (a “mael­strom in a minor key”—also beau­ti­ful­ly adapt­ed to the Moog by Wendy Car­los), and the glo­ri­ous Mag­ni­fi­cat, Bach’s first large choral work after his 1723 appoint­ment in Leipzig (hear “Depo­suit” below).

The Con­cer­to in G major, which you can see and hear per­formed at the top of the post, shows us the com­pos­er “con­tin­u­al­ly mis­lead­ing us” as to “which instru­ments are the real soloists.” Two recorders ini­tial­ly take the lead, then a vio­lin, then the recorders again until “they are soon trumped by the vio­lin, which steals the show in a whirl­wind of dizzy­ing notes…. The roles are always ambigu­ous,” and our atten­tion always riv­et­ed on the vir­tu­oso inter­play. “Bach delib­er­ate­ly obscures the usu­al­ly clear con­trast between soloists and ensem­ble,” All of Bach observes, and “his play on the char­ac­ter­is­tic ele­ments of the con­cer­to form draws to a close in a suit­ably sub­ver­sive and bound­ary-blur­ring way.”

The site also fea­tures extras such as inter­views with musi­cians. (See Harp­si­chordist Fred­er­ick Haas dis­cuss The Well-Tem­pered Clavier here, or watch vio­lin­ist Shunske Sato and recorder play­er Heiko ter Shegget talk about the Con­cer­to in G major’s com­plex­i­ty here.) You’ll also find plen­ty of his­tor­i­cal and musi­co­log­i­cal con­text for each piece. New per­for­mances are uploaded to the site every Fri­day. To keep up with All of Bach, fol­low them on Face­book or Twit­ter, or sign up for email updates on their site. Or just vis­it their web site.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

All of Bach Is Putting Videos of 1,080 Bach Per­for­mances Online: Watch the First 53 Record­ings and the St. Matthew Pas­sion

Down­load the Com­plete Organ Works of J.S. Bach for Free

JS Bach’s The Well-Tem­pered Clavier Artis­ti­cal­ly Ani­mat­ed with Puls­ing Neon Lights

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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