Intricate noise

I’ve been amusing myself the past few days by running MIDI files of Bach’s Art of Fugue through a variety of soft synths. This one, I think, is the sixth “contrapunctus” (the MIDI files are confusingly labeled), realized with four instances of the AAS Chromaphone.

Bach times 377 is currently offering the complete harpsichord works of Bach, performed by Martin Galling, for 99 cents. This includes both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier, the partitas and French and English suites, and much else. Even if the recordings are not to your taste, you’re only risking a dollar for fifteen hours of music.

The performances, to my non-expert ears, are acceptable but not outstanding. Here’s Galling’s rendition of the Prelude and Fugue in C minor from the first book:

Compare it to Malcolm Hamilton’s

and Takahiro Sonoda’s

Galling is a plodder. I’m being unfair — he usually picks better tempos than he does in that prelude — but there is a reason why he is seldom mentioned in the same breath as Glenn Gould and Wanda Landowska. Still, Galling generally does play Bach well enough to give pleasure, and the set is a good deal. You can indeed find better recordings of Bach, but they’ll cost you much more than one dollar.

For the heck of it, I found MIDI files of the prelude and fugue and ran them through a synthesized harpsichord on my computer:

Bach for lunch

The complete Goldberg Variations, performed by Kimiko Ishizaka, are available here in various formats, for free, thanks to Kickstarter. ((The .mp3 zip file is missing the twenty-eighth variation, but you can download that separately from the player on the page.))

Birthday present

Johann Sebastian Bach was born 327 years ago today (or on March 31, depending on which calendar you use). To celebrate the occasion, is selling nine hours of his music for 99¢ for a few days. I recognized a few of the performers, such as Joseph Szigeti and Andras Schiff, but most I’m not familiar with. I expect that the Amazon offering is mainly good older recordings and recent recordings by lesser-known artists. It’s probably worth gambling a dollar on.


I know what I want for Christmas:

Quills or hammers?

Here are two recordings of the Prelude and Fugue in C minor from Book One of The Well-Tempered Clavier: on harpsichord, played by Malcolm Hamilton; and, on piano, played by Takahiro Sonoda. Which do you prefer?

[mp3] 2 in C Minor.mp3[/mp3]
[mp3] 2 in C Minor.mp3[/mp3]

[mp3] 2 in C Minor.mp3[/mp3]
[mp3] 2 in C Minor.mp3[/mp3]