7 Posts in 7 Days: Five Favorite Bach Pieces

Five Favorites

I’m feeling really twitchy about a family situation (I can’t discuss it publicly out of respect for that family member) so I’m up posting and I thought I’d listen to some Bach to calm me down.

For those who don’t know, I’m a classically trained pianist and vocalist. I rarely play piano publicly anymore and I don’t have opportunity to sing much because of Daniel. To be clear, I’m not a soloist — I’m one of those people who loves to lend support to a community choral group. Bach is considered “the master” and it was pretty much expected when I participated in Guild Auditions that one of my Baroque pieces would be something by Bach.

One

Concerto for Two Pianos C major BWV 1061 (Vivace) This is the third movement of the concerto and it’s a fugue. If I could, I would have this as the ring tone for my cell phone. I liken the piece to children playing tag with the way that the theme jumps from person to person and instrument to instrument. This particular video does a good job of showing it.

Two

“Jesus bleibet meine Freude” BWV 147 The English for this one is “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and it should be familiar to many people. It was my first vocal solo (singing soprano with my friend Joyce doing second soprano and my friend Sunitha singing alto — absolutely terrifying for me but so incredibly wonderful) and it was also the processional at my wedding. I have probably 5 versions of it in my iTunes and on my “Bach and Baroque” playlist.

Three

Prelude and Fugue No.12 in F Minor BWV 881 from “The Well-Tempered Clavier” This pianist does it well but my favorite version is from Windham Hill’s album “The Bach Variations” with Philip Aaberg playing it. I’m biased because he actually played it for a concert at the Montana Synod Assembly in 2006. I swear every bone in my body relaxed during it.

Four

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers Awake) BWV 645 My church choir director in high school was one of my professors in college. (I sang in the Women’s Chorale for 5 quarters and she was my conductor for 3 of them.) This is a piece that I remember her playing as an offertory when I was home from college.

Five

“Little” Fugue in G minor, BWV 578 This is the piece that was used in Music Appreciation in high school to explain the structure of a fugue. It’s a pretty well-known piece and I chose this particular video to show you how insanely intricate it is. One of the reasons that Bach is considered “the master” for many people is that his music sounds so simple when in reality, it takes a great deal of skill to make it sound that way. Polyphony for the win!

Go love up Hallie and the others.