Is Bach experiencing a resurgence among orchestras?

Posted on: March 25, 2013

“In recent months, symphony orchestras have returned to the music of J.S. Bach with a vengeance,” states a Wednesday (3/20) blog post on the website of WQXR, the New York City-based classical-music radio station. “The New York Philharmonic is in the midst of a month-long Bach festival with the expressed goal of reclaiming the master’s music for modern instruments. At the Philadelphia Orchestra, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and Brandenburg Concertos are on the calendar this spring. The orchestra also plans to re-record the Bach transcriptions of Leopold Stokowski—those sumptuous, technicolor arrangements that had been considered passé (if enjoyably so). ‘There’s been a weird phenomenon for a long time that has made it pretty rare to see Bach on symphony orchestra programs,’ said New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert in a recent video explaining the orchestra’s project. He goes on to question the ‘exclusivity’ of suggesting ‘there was one only one right way to play Bach.’ … For years, if not decades, period-instrument players had gained the upper hand by researching appropriate tempos, ornamentation and instruments.” An accompanying poll asks to what extent Bach’s music should be played on period instruments. WQXR is currently presenting “Bach 360°,” a 10-day festival with more than 200 hours of the composer’s music, March 21-31.

Posted March 25, 2013