A few days ago, I had what turned out to be an intimate encounter with J.S. Bach. My intimate encounter actually took place in a very large cathedral.
An organist friend who is preparing for a month-long residency in Poland invited me to hear the repertory that she will be presenting over the course of several performances during her upcoming tour. She has prepared both well known and more obscure works, including works of living composers.
Of course, one of her selections is by Bach: the Great Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542). The Fantasia begins in a free, improvisational style. (Bach was a master of improvisation, after all.) The virtuosic Fugue that follows requires brisk footwork.
This work is certainly “Great” in scope, yet my encounter with it was an intimate one. I was the soul listener in the nave, a congregation of one. The effect was awe-inspiring. J.S. Bach has a way of doing that.