Day By Day

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Afternoon at the BMA

This weekend "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I went with a group of friends to the BMA for the latest Shriver Hall Concert. The performer was Richard Egarr, famed conductor and Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music (he has been called "The Bernstein of Early Music"). He is an extremely talented keyboard artist and this was his instrument of choice.

Ain't that gorgeous? Well..., I think so!

Here he is performing.

And what is he playing? Bach's Well Tempered Klavier -- the whole thing! Two and a half hours of harpsichord preludes and fugues during which I transitioned from mildly interested, to distracted, to drowsy, to (and this surprised me) fascinated and wholly involved in the performance. Harpsichord is a very limited instrument, compared to the Pianoforte [or even the Clavier for that matter], and the real challenge for both composer and performer is how to achieve a wide range of effects. The harpsichord experience of Bach is entirely different from what you get with a piano and slowly it had begun to sink in to me just how brilliant Bach and his interpreter were, and what a tremendous achievement the Well Tempered Klavier is.

All in all, time very well spent.

Here is an approximation of what we were hearing -- the guy is pretty good but not quite in Egarr's class and he doesn't have the same instrument, but these selections from the Clavier will give you some idea of what we experienced. It will also illustrate just what "tempered" is all about.