Saturday 20 April 2024

Saturday music: Vikingur Olafsson plays Bach BV 528 (transcribed by Stradal).

I stumbled across this recording and was immediately gripped, and deeply impressed, by its musicianship. 

Once begun; I could not stop watching and listening. 

Indeed, this may be the single most impressive playing of a piece by Bach on piano I have heard since Glenn Gould - although the interpretation is extremely different from what Gould would (or could) have done; and the piece itself is not of a kind to interest Gould. 

The piece is a transcribed organ trio sonata movement, and in a mostly not-contrapuntal, arpeggiated style (broken chords), built mostly around sequences (explained here). 

I have heard about Vikingur Olafsson before, a few years ago when he was much hyped; but behind the ignorant praise of foolish critics (!) he is clearly capable of being an outstanding Bach solo pianist, in at least some of the repertoire.

Here Olafsson creates an ambience or halo of continuous sound; and the pulse, drive, forward momentum is utterly outstanding in its inevitability and yet suppleness. 

Note added: Some of the Bach performances I have heard by VO don't hold-together overall, and some lose intensity of focus - like all musicians, he does some types of music much better than others. But it is reasonable to note what he has done supremely well. His phrasing is very lyrical, which is a big plus in my book; and seems unusual in modern pianists.  


Lucas said...

I really enjoyed this version.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucas - I've listened to the trio sonatas on organ many times, but this particular movement never stood-out before; and I hadn't heard it transcribed. He seems to be doing something very special with it.

anne said...

I was going to listen to my favorite Bach piece, but then I remembered that you had posted one recently. Let’s go listen to that. And lo, it is my favorite Bach piece.

Which is to say, thank you for sharing this delightful interpretation. With a side of synchronicity.