Thursday, February 15, 2018

Second Round of 24 Pianists Playing Bach Announced

Readers may recall that last May the McRoskey Mattress Company hosted a concert featuring 24 different pianists each playing one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s prelude-fugue couplings. The title of this program was 24 by 24: Twenty-four Pianists Perform the Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues from J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I. Of course anyone who knows their Bach will tell you that Bach wrote two of these collections, each traversing all of the major and minor keys associated with the chromatic scale in the order of the pitches of that scale beginning with C.

What is less known is that these two sets were separated by twenty years. Book I was completed in autograph in 1722 during Bach’s service as Kapellmeister (director of music) for Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen:

The first page of the autograph of Book I (from Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

Because the prince was a Calvinist, Bach’s duties involved only secular music; and he was particularly productive in that genre. Book II, on the other hand, was completed during Bach’s tenure in Leipzig in 1742, which would be early in the last decade of the composer’s life. For many years I have reflected on the hypothesis that this second set can be regarded as autobiographical in nature, using many of the preludes and fugues to reflect on the composer’s past achievements. Indeed, when the idea first occurred to me, I went as far as to call Book IIthe only autobiographical account Bach would be capable of telling.”

All this should serve as prelude (so to speak) to the announcement that, at the beginning of next month, the McRoskey Mattress Company will complement the program it hosted last May. Once again 24 pianists will gather, this time to perform all 24 of the prelude-fugue couplings in Book II. This will involve a new gathering of performers, only some of whom participated in the Book I performance. Those performers will be, in the order of the keys of the preludes and fugues as they were published, as follows:
  1. C major: Robin Sutherland
  2. C minor: Allegra Chapman
  3. C# major: Ken Iisaka
  4. C# minor: Peter Grunberg
  5. D major: Victoria Neve
  6. D minor: Anne Rainwater
  7. E-flat major: Daniel Glover
  8. D# minor: Robert Schwartz
  9. E major: Kelly Savage
  10. E minor: Kevin Korth
  11. F major: Nicholas Pavkovic
  12. F minor: Derek Tam
  13. F# major: Brian Fitzsousa
  14. F# minor: Monica Chew
  15. G major: Robert Brownstein
  16. G minor: Adam Tendler
  17. A-flat major: Keisuke Nakagoshi
  18. G# minor: Serene
  19. A major: Nayantara Jain
  20. A minor: Christopher Basso
  21. B-flat major: Michael Gilbertson
  22. B-flat minor: Elizabeth Dorman
  23. B major: Dale Tsang
  24. B minor: Laura Magnani
The performance will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2. (Note that this is an hour earlier than the performance of Book I; Book II is longer in duration.) The venue will be the McRoskey Mattress Company at 1687 Market Street. All tickets will be $20. Advance purchase is highly recommended, because seating will be limited. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through an Eventbrite event page. The event is again being sponsored by R. Kassman: Purveyor of Fine Pianos.

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