I’ve made some progress wading into my newly acquired mega-library of JS Bach recordings, I’ve listened to about 50 CDs.
So far, the overall quality is very good, although there are some disappointments. I listened mostly to the keyboard, orchestral and chamber music selections.
The choral work isn’t quite as appealing to me, although I’ll get around to it eventually. So far, there have only been two major disappointments; The Art of Fugue is performed on organ, and sounds muddled and cloudy to me, although I think this is mostly due to my old man’s hearing, which is deteriorating at the low frequencies. No matter, I have the same piece by the Emerson String Quartet from Deutsche Grammofon, and it is crisp and sharp. One of the flute Sonatas sounds pretty rough, the performance is spotty and the recording is flawed, but the other features Jean-Pierre Rampal and it is absolutely gorgeous.
Most of the material has been curated from older recordings, especially the more obscure or infrequently recorded pieces, and some by unknown (but not necessarily inferior) artists, but as a rule, both the technical quality and the performance is excellent. All in all, I think I got a bargain.
Bach and Newton were contemporaries, and we are getting a glimpse into the universe here as it was understood by the Enlightenment. It is a world of intricate complexity, mathematician’s music, head music, the clockwork universe of the 18th century. I get visions of sine waves and complex geometries in multiple dimensions. It can be breathtaking.
If I had to do it all over again, I believe I would have studied music and not physics. I don’t know whether or not I would have been any good at it either, but I think it would have been an alternate, perhaps better path for me. Bach explored that universe intensely. I would have loved to talk to him.