I just got home from a Bach concert. It was a cover band, but still, it was pretty cool.
Seriously, though, it was magnificent. I actually found out about this because I got to put up the poster at the library. One of the piano soloists is a patron of the library, and I knew he was a musician of some repute, but I’d never heard him perform before. Wow, what a treat!
This was a concert for orchestra and two pianos. It was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Peoria, so the acoustics were lovely. In the background were four violins, two violas, a cello, and a bass. In the foreground, of course, were the two grand pianos. The program was simple but elegant; four pieces, three movements each. A duet first, then a solo. Intermission, another solo, and they wrapped it up with another duet.
Now, I’m not a musical illiterate by any means. But I am not good at recognizing a piece just by a number (unless, duh, it’s Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Or his Seventh or Ninth Symphonies). So a glance at the program when I sat down was fairly useless to me. All I could tell going in was that these were concertos by Bach, not his religious pieces. I’m always down for a good bit of Bach, so I settled in for an evening of great music. With the first few notes of each piece, I recognized them as old familiar friends, and I listened to the concert with a smile. (For those of you who are more eddicated than me, the pieces were Concerto for Two Klaviers and Strings in C minor; Concerto for Klavier and Strings in D minor; Concerto for Klavier and Strings in D Major; and Concerto for Two Klaviers and Strings in C minor. See? Doesn’t tell you much until you start listening. Doesn’t tell ME much, anyway.)
I’m always impressed with how Bach manages to be intricate and muscular at the same time. I was sitting in the very first row, right next to the aisle, so I was quite literally front and center for this evening of exquisite music. During the last concerto, the second duet, I was in a position to watch the female soloist as she performed. I was mesmerized by her hands as she played the slower second movement, the Adagio. Her fingers danced over the keys with the sinuous moves of a cat–it was amazing to see.
I closed my eyes and lost myself in the music at some parts. I thought of how marvelous it is that humans get to make music–I mean, really, how cool is that? I grew up singing, and I had lessons on several instruments, but I could never get the hang of anything that took more than one hand to play (which is why singing was the only thing I ever got any good at–you don’t need ANY hands for that). I am in utter awe of musicians who can draw such fierce, tender, thrilling sound from their instruments. And I am moved beyond words that there were people in this world who composed this music, this wonderful Baroque intricacy, and three hundred years later we are still sharing it with each other and honoring and enjoying their work.
Next month, it’ll be Vivaldi’s Gloria. I can hardly wait!