I’m still on a “high” from hearing a live performance by The Knights with violinist, Gil Shaham last evening. The program consisted of Rebel, Prokofiev and Beethoven. As an avid listener of Bach, I decided to challenge myself to listen for Bach’s influence in the composers represented in last night’s program.
The similarities between Bach’s music and Rebel’s Les Charatères de la Danse were fairly obvious. Bach and Rebel were contemporaries. Whether they knew each other or not, they were both composing music in the popular dance forms of their day.
Prokofiev may have criticized his rival, Igor Stravinsky, for succumbing to “Bach-isms” in his compositions for the dance, but I thought I detected a few such “isms” in his own Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor. For instance, the role reversals between the violin soloist and orchestra in the achingly beautiful 2nd movement, Andante assai, sounded quite Bach-like.
Bach showed up everywhere in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (the Eroica). From the fugatos in the 2nd movement (Marcia funebre) to the artful recycling, in the Finale, of a theme Beethoven had used in several earlier compositions, Bach’s genius was being imitated by yet another genius.
Listening to Bach is one of my passions. Listening for Bach can be just as enlightening!