I've written about this before in various places in the SLSO
publishing sphere, but I have so few new ideas I'll stick with the old ones.
And it helps that SLSO Concertmaster David Halen acknowledged this idea just before
rehearsal Thursday morning: Listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, as well
as the Concerto for Two Violins--performed this Sunday as the finale to the Casual
Classics season--makes an immediate connection to the music of Appalachia, the
Scotch-Irish traditional Bluegrass sound.
I told David that I thought I was hearing a Germanic "Foggy
Mountain Breakdown" coming from the stage. He wondered if it was the influence
of Gilles Apap, the violinist who played at Innsbrook this week: "He plays everything like that." And then David agreed with me on the concept of a Bach-Bluegrass link: It would have been great to have heard Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs play Bach. "It's a very real
connection," David said. "And it's a connection that we got away from beginning
in the 19th century, trying to turn Bach into a romantic."
The trading of the solo line, the wax and wane of the
accompanying artists--it's heard in Bluegrass
as it is in jazz. John Eliot Gardner put it this way: "...when it comes to hitting a
propulsive rhythmic groove, no one is a match for J.S. Bach."
Music is a wonderful, ongoing human conversation: Bach and Duke
Ellington and Bob Wills and Jonny Greenwood in a neverending dialogue. If they
agree on one principal, I would say it is: It don't mean a thing if it ain't
got that swing.
I'm taking a short break from Powell Hall. The next blog
post will be Monday, June 21.
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