155 Days With Bach and Me

All Bach, All the Time…Everything Johann Composed

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Day Forty One: Toccatas (CD 2-18)

September 6th, 2011 · No Comments · 1707, 1708, 1710, 1711, Bach at 22, Bach at 23, Bach at 25, Bach at 26, Bradbury, BWV 910, BWV 911, BWV 912, BWV 913, BWV 914, BWV 916, CD 2-18, Harpsichord, Menno van Delft, Scottish Fold, Toccatas

Bach Edition 41My cat is dying.

In case you were wondering, that’s why I haven’t been posting regularly.

I’ve been with Bradbury, my cat, for 10 years. He’s the most adorable, sweet-tempered, intelligent and funny feline I’ve ever seen. He’s a Scottish Fold with such sad eyes that he melts hearts in even the most anti-cat people.

My wife and I have been taking care of him, giving him four injections daily, including a sub-cu treatment of Ringers Lactate so that he is hydrated. He won’t eat. So he’s not getting enough fluids. Hence, the Ringers. He’s getting skinny and lethargic. Breathing is difficult for him, too (he has a mass on one of his lungs and spots in another — which likely means cancer). It’s heartbreaking to see him like this, and even more so knowing he won’t be around much longer.

BradburyIn the spirit of what I’m doing with this web site, I’ve listened to the Bach CDs every day. But I just haven’t had the 1-2 hours per day to post comments, links, video clips, etc.

So I figured I’d start back up with today’s current CD and back-fill the other posts as time allows.

Let’s start with a question. What is a toccata?

According to its entry on Wikipedia, a toccata is:

Toccata (from Italian toccare, “to touch”) is a virtuoso piece of music typically for a keyboard or plucked string instrument featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered or otherwise virtuosic passages or sections, with or without imitative or fugal interludes, generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer’s fingers. Less frequently, the name is applied to works for multiple instruments (the opening of Claudio Monteverdi’s opera Orfeo being a notable example).

I don’t know if it’s my current state of mind, or if I don’t care for these compositions. But I can’t seem to get into them. They sound like someone smacking together a bunch of trash-can lids. It’s not melodic or hook-y enough to grab my attention.

Of course, Bach was a young lad when he composed these toccatas. He was as young as 22 (or younger) and likely no older than 26. So his skills were probably not as developed as they would be decades later.

Track five (“Toccata in D major,” BWV 912) caught my attention because of the rapid-fire playing. But, barring that, I didn’t find anything here that I’d listen to more than 2-3 times (which I do every time I post my comments). After today, I’ll just stuff this CD back into the Bach box and forget I even have it.

This isn’t a reflection on harpsichordist Menno van Delft, though. His playing is superb. I’m just not into Bach’s toccatas. Not today, anyway.

The compositions on today’s CD are:
BWV 910 — 1711 (Bach was 26)
BWV 911 — 1711 (Bach was 26)
BWV 912 — 1708 (Bach was 23)
BWV 913 — 1707 (Bach was 22)
BWV 914 — 1708 (Bach was 23)
BWV 916 — 1710 (Bach was 25)
NOTE: All of the above dates are approximate. Nobody seems to know for sure when these were composed. I’ve seen some dates a few years earlier than these. I picked the outside dates for all compositions just to be on the safe side.


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