After three months of practicing the music, I’m happy to have my Bach album out on Spotify.
The pieces I chose are ones I have a special attachment to. There’s the ‘Kyrie eleison’ from the B minor mass, which I’ve been working on since 2016. Then there’s the prelude of BWV 543 in A minor. I haven’t had the courage to do its corresponding fugue, but the prelude alone was quite a challenge. It also gave me a good idea of how much work I’d have to put into learning the other pieces.
There was the Chaconne, which I had apparently promised two years ago to learn. The length was quite daunting, and I had to separate it into four parts to make it seem more manageable, and even then I still needed to divide it into smaller parts. It took me 31 days just to memorize, and that gave me plenty of headaches. Finally being able to play it in one go without looking at my notes, felt like winning a championship.
The fugue in F#, from BWV 858, which is about one percent of the Well-Tempered Clavier (How humbling!), was the one that gave me the most anxiety just thinking of learning it. The optimum fingerings I devised for it, still appeared unfathomable when considered all together. My solution was similar to the Chaconne, tackling it in small portions, until finally I had it all in my mind.
After the difficulty in learning those three pieces, learning the Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 was relatively no sweat, taking a day, but still wowed me in terms of being such a compelling composition with its melodies weaved into each other.
The versions of these pieces that you hear in ‘Bach at 333’ were recorded mid-April. Only the Air was done in one take, and I didn’t bother to cover up the flaws of the version, as it sounded convincing enough.
The other pieces, I recorded two or three takes to choose from, and punched in some corrections to notes that weren’t done right. Still, the end result is quite raw-sounding, the tempos organic.
Learning these pieces was the primary inspiration for the book I’ve been writing the past couple of weeks, which I should be releasing in about a month’s time. In it, I look at my experiences learning music, while making some general statements about education as a whole. Because of the importance of the Bach project to me, the book is the closest thing to a biography that I’ve yet written. Stay tuned!