It’s commonplace for young musicians to study Bach, and has been since Mendelssohn. Many keyboard works by Bach were written as study pieces. Yet his music can seem superhuman, and it’s not at all common for a musician to feel that Bach’s output has been fully mastered.
French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard felt so strongly that Bach requires full attention that, in preparation for recording and touring with the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, he took a seven-month sabbatical just to study the work. He says this music is “a universe,” and is so rich that he finds new gems within it daily. All his “time, forces, emotions and work” were required to fully embrace this masterpiece which, he says, “enriches you and opens your heart.”
Aimard’s performance of the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, which takes about two hours in concert, is a journey through an entire world of emotion and expression, he says. Forty-eight distinct emotional vistas are open to us in this music. And yet, says Aimard, one must first honor the composer. “To play Bach, you don’t need a star whose ego will decide too many things…I’m interested in trying to be true. I’m not arrogant. I just try. We always fail somewhere. Only Bach could be true with his own music.”
Join us this week as we begin our celebration of Bach’s birthday month with this recording. And hear more in Aimard’s conversation with Classical WETA’s Deborah Lamberton here.