There’s a nice hour-long documentary on J.S. Bach from the BBC, below. It waxes almost fulsome on his merits. But it’s a strange paradox how, out of all the Classical Greats, Bach is, it’s safe to say, the least performed to a mass audience.
You’ll find Mozart and Beethoven anywhere and everywhere. But Bach? Less so.
Does he intimidate performers as well as listeners?
Is he like Shakespeare, whose plays and sonnets address timeless issues in language from a time past?
Perhaps, as with Shakespeare, the performer needs to work extra hard to make those words compelling to each new generation.
Before we get to the Bach documentary, I want to show a case-in-point of a performer who bends his notes into irresistible narratives: Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt performing Bach’s French Suite No. 5, in G Major at Toronto’s Koerner Hall, courtesy of the CBC:
Now, for an hour on Bach: