Wanted: best Bach interpretations / twists

Lots of musicians have ‘interpreted’ the music of Bach or tried to give Bach a fresh twist or new slant. Anyone have any favourite examples to suggest?

I’m looking for instrumental music only, no voices, and although it’s obviously subjective I’m interested in musical excellence, technical virtuosity and musicians taking on what seem like tough/impossible challenges.

I’m also looking for good ‘compare and contrast’ examples of the same piece tackled in widely divergent ways. For example, I’ve enjoyed listening to the E major Partita as interpreted by Wendy Carlos for synths, Jacques Loussier for jazz trio, Itzhak Perlman for solo violin and Julian Bream for solo guitar (which I wouldn’t even have thought was possible.)

Over to you!

The Los Angeles Guitar Quintet has some nice classical guitar versions of Bach’s work. Their version of one of his Brandenburg concerti (the 3rd?) is excellent – it’s like Bach unplugged, very light and moving (in the sense of motion, not emotions). I don’t have a very refined ear for hearing technical excellence in classical music, but they sound pretty good to me.

Even though you said you didn’t want human voices, I’ll mention the Swingle Singers anyways – they’re fun to listen to (in small doses), and there version of Bach’s little fugue in E-minor (?) is great.

I’ll send in a vote for the work of Jacques Loussier. He led a small jazz group called “The Play Bach Trio” which performed jazz improvisations based on Bach’s work. And not just bits and pieces either; one recording features a jazz interpretation of the Concerto in C Minor; all three movements.

And it’s funny how I completely skipped over your mentioning of him in the OP. :smack:

Look also for an album called “Bach on Wood” by Brian Slawson. It’s Bach done with all percussion instrumentation.

Segovia did some of the violin and cello works on guitar
(here’s one album) if you want some more guitar.

Going at it from a different angle, there’s “Bach Meets the Beatles” which is actually Beatles songs done in the style of Bach. More a curiousity than all that good (though I used to love it when I was smaller).

I thought Yngwie Malmsteen did some Bach (at least I used to have a tape with “Yngwie Malmsteen” hand-written on it that had some Bach pieces on it and sounded like him). A cursory search seems only to mention Sebastian Bach in connection with Malmsteen.

Switched on Bach by Wendy Carlos. One of the first popular uses of the Moog Synthesizer; it was a massively popular album when it first came out.

My favorite would be Jethro Tull’s “Bouree” [sic.], adapted from the E-minor Lute Suite.

The first “classical” LP I ever bought was an album on Nonesuch called Jazz Guitar Bach, credited to André Benichou and His Well-Tempered Three. It was actually pretty straight (not “jazzed up”) readings of various short pieces, arranged for two electric guitars, bass, and drums.

Seconding this heartily. Have a listen to her work, here andhere.

I’ve loved the Back interpretations by WendyCarlos for years, with the Little Fugue in D my overall favorite.

Howevr, there’s another synthsizer version of Bach’s **Toccata and Fugue in D Minor[/B[ by someone who is not Carlos that I love. The problem is, I don’t know who performed it – there’s no info on the rcord jacket. (Carlos did eventually produce a version of this herself, I think o Bach 2000, but I don’t lke it anywhere near as much).
I also like the orchestral version of Toccata and Fugue in D performed for Disney’s Fantasia. I’ve heard other orchestral versions, but I like that one best.

I have a version on an LP called The Unusual Classical Synthesizer (Westminster Gold WGS-8182) that came out in 1972. It’s credited to Mike Hankinson and the Putney VCS3 Synthesizer. Could that be it?

Bach’s Organ Favorites, E. Power Biggs. Played on the Flentrop organ at Harvard, it is absolutely my favorite Bach CD ever.

Possibly – the date’s about right. But howcum your copy gives credits?

Is it possibly Don Dorsey from Bachbusters?

Hmm… I’ve thought of myself as a Bach expert. I have an original recording of the “Sanka” cantata from PDQ Bach (1807-1742). Big fan of Barbara and Catherine Bach, too.

Yet I have no idea who you’re all talking about.

:confused: :slight_smile:

This is what first came to mind for me.

As I recall the story: lead singer / lead flutist Ian Anderson (and how many other classic rockers hold THAT distinction?) and the boys wanted to include a classical piece on their next album.

Anderson had lived in a flat that housed a budding, orchestra player who practiced this song on end.

When the band threw out the idea for discussion, Anderson said he knew just the song.

If you’ve never heard it, you have got to check it out.

It has vocals, but the Eccentric Opera’s version of Fugue G definitely has it’s own twist.

I think Biffy’s isd more likely to be it. But it’s interesting to hear of another version.

I’ve seen Peter Schikele performing “P.D.Q. Bach” in concert twice. Great stuff, and I suspect I’m missing a lot by not being more knowledgeable about Bach than I am. I love his “Bach Portrait”, a parody of “Lincoln Portrait”, with Carl Sandberg’s words interspersed: “He stoof Five Feet five inches high, and was Two Feet thick.”

You have it on an LP? What else is on it? What label is it on?

Yeah, it’s on an LP. It’s buried away, so I’ll have to dig it out. It might be Winchester Gold (which would be in line with what you said), but I don’t recall. It’;s got a lot of classical music rendered on synthesizer, but it lists no names of performers. The cover photo shows an overloaded electrical socket, with multiple plug extenders jammed together. I don’t recall the otherv pieces on the album. But it pretty clearly isn’t Walter/Wendy Carlos performing, or they’d have said so.

(By the way, one of the most neglected Carlos albums is The Moog Strikes Back, with lots on non-Baroque yet non-Carlos music on it, including Elgar and even a version of “Eleanor Rigby”. Interesting album, especially because the Elgar piece, “Pompous Circumstances”, is kinda like Ives’ “America Variations”.)

Yeah, that’s the one.

You’re thinking of Wendy Carlos By Request. The version of “What’s New Pussycat” on there is a riot. Unfortunately, the CD version naturally omits the wonderful original cover art, which included a caricature of the pre-sex-change WC.