Artists | Friends of Chamber Music

A Page from the Friends of Chamber Music Listening Guide – Víkingur Ólafsson

As the Chamber Music season goes into full swing, the Friends of Chamber Music have provided all of us with a tailored listening to guide to their 2018-2019 season! As we come on to each concert, we will share a page from their Listening Guide for each Folly performance! This first page is for Víkingur Ólafsson, coming to the Folly Theater on Friday, November 2nd at 7:30 PM. Tickets are still available for this performance.

Víkingur Ólafsson

7:30 PM on Friday, November 2, 2018

At the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the Folly Theater

Works by Bach and Glass
About Víkingur Ólafsson
Possessing a rare combination of passionate musicality, explosive virtuosity, and intellectual curiosity, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has been heralded “Iceland’s Glenn Gould” by the New York Times (Anthony Tommasini, August 2017). Before lighting up the international scene in 2016, Víkingur won all the major prizes in his native country, including the Order of the Falcon, four Musician of the Year prizes at the Icelandic Music Awards, and the Icelandic Optimism Prize.
About the program:
Víkingur’s program creates a fascinating juxtaposition of miniatures from two ends of the musical spectrum in time. Bach’s works are some of the oldest masterworks composed for the keyboard while Glass’s works are some of the newest. We will also experience several composers’ impressions of Bach’s music through their transcriptions (including the soloist!). This program is not only for the Master Pianist Series devotee but is also a wonderful introduction to classical piano music, both old and new.
Program and Questions:
Bach, Aria Variata alla maniera Italiana BWV 989

Bach was 24 years old when he composed this work making this one of the earliest pieces on the program.

How does it compare to some of the later works on this program?

Bach, Prelude and Fugue in D Major BWV 850 (from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I)

The Well-Tempered Clavier takes its name from a tuning system called equal temperament, which allows a musician to play in every key on instruments with fixed pitches (primarily keyboard instruments). Bach’s two collections, referred to as Book I and Book II, showed the possibilities of this flexible system.  Víkingur is performing two Preludes and Fugues from Book 1, which was assembled in 1722 (when Bach was 37 years old).

Marcello (trans. Bach), Concerto in D Minor BWV 974

Bach Collegium Japan will also perform Marcello’s Concerto in D Minor for Oboe on December 6.

How do the two versions (Marcello’s original composition and Bach’s transcription) compare?

Which version do you like better?

Bach (trans. Ólafsson), Aria from Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54

Since Víkingur recently transcribed this work himself, we will only be able to listen to the original version of this piece.

How do you think it will translate to a piece for solo piano?

Bach, Prelude and Fugue in E Minor BWV 855 Bach (trans. Rachmaninov), Gavotte (from Violin Partita in E Major) BWV 1006

Rachmaninov was a romantic Russian composer. A recording of his Piano Concerto No. 2 can be found in the Listening Library.

How are Bach and Rachmaninov similar or different?

How do you think Rachmaninov’s style influenced his transcription of Bach’s Gavotte?

This work was originally composed for violin.

What is different about the two versions besides their instrumentation?

Does Rachmaninov’s transcription stay true to Bach’s original composition? Why or why not?

Which version do you like better?

Bach, Invention No 15 in B Minor BWV 786 (from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I)

Bach composed two- and three-part inventions, meaning that the pieces contained 2 or 3 distinct voices.

How many voices do you hear in this work? Can you determine just by listening if it is a two- or three-part invention?

Bach, Sinfonia No 15 in B Minor BWV 801

These two pieces were written for Bach’s eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, when he was about 9 years old and had shown a great deal of promise as a pianist.  As Bach composed more inventions, he compiled them into a book called The Little Keyboard Book. They make a suitable introduction to The Well-Tempered Clavier.

Do these works sound like they could be played by children or young adults?

Bach (trans. Siloti), Prelude in B Minor, BWV 855a

Siloti was a Russian pianist who studied with Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, and Liszt. He later taught Rachmaninov, who was also his cousin.

Is the style of this arrangement similar to Rachmaninov’s arrangement of the Partita? How?

Bach, Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor BWV 944 Glass, Opening from Glassworks Glass, Etudes No. 9, 2, 3, 5, and 6

Glass’s music is so beautifully simple. When listening to minimalism like this, it is best to relax and enjoy the hypnotic sounds.

Do you hear any similarities between Glass’ works and Bach’s?

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