For most music lovers, the work of classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is considered to be of the highest artistic value. The Montreal Bach Festival, in its tenth edition, celebrates that heritage.
I remember a conversation I had with the classically-trained and eminent bassist Ron Carter during his Invitation series at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
It was an informal chat, and Carter spontaneously pointed to one work he recommended I listen to carefully: Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.
Years later I picked up a CD in which Carter plays pizzicato bass and improvises on the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, with string orchestra (Ron Carter, Brandenburg Concerto, Blue Note), and which Carter praises as “this delicate and wonderful music.”
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“Bach’s music wasn’t written for any particular reason, but it is capable of being expressed by many different instruments and in any style. That’s one of the things that attracts people to Bach,” Carter says.
Among the festival highlights there will be a performance Nov. 29 of all six Brandenburg Concertos with Boris Brott conducting the McGill Chamber Orchestra, Luc Beauséjour, harpsichord, and Matthias Maute, recorder, at the wonderful Christ Church Cathedral, 635 St. Catherine W., 7:30pm
The festival’s 28 concerts are presented in conjunction with local and international ensembles.
Nov. 11: Academia Bizantina, with Ottavio Dantone, conductor and harpsichord and violinist Victoria Mullova, plays two Bach concertos in their original form, and two transcriptions at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, 3425 Redpath, 7:30pm
Nov. 18: Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan plays the Goldberg Variations and pieces by Vladimir Ryabov at Salle Bourgie, 1339 Sherbrooke W. 7:30pm
Nov. 20: Award-winning violinist Ayana Tsuji and pianist Philip Chiu play Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven sonatas at Salle des Jeunesses Musicales, 305 Mount Royal Ave. E., 7:30pm
Nov. 22: Music for the hunt by Georg Philipp Telemann and Christoph Graupner features director/harpsichordist Geneviève Soly, Pierre-Antoine Tremblay and Louis Pierre Bergeron (horns) and Daniel Lanthier (oboe), Salle Bourgie, 7:30pm
Nov. 23: Ensemble Caprice, Matthias Maute conducting, plays Maute’s arrangement of the Italian Concerto for recorder and strings, Bach’s third and fourth orchestral suites, and Cantata Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn for soprano, bass, recorder, oboe, viola d’amore, viola da gamba, and basso continuo, Salle Bourgie, 8pm
Nov. 26: The French baroque ensemble Café Zimmerman gives the first of two concerts, playing Bach cantatas and sonatas, with Céline Frisch (harpsichord), Pablo Valetti (violin) and Benoît Arnould (baritone), Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, 7:30pm
Nov. 27: Café Zimmerman returns with afternoon delights: Bach’s Concerto for harpsichord and strings in D Minor, Concerto for oboe d’amore, strings, and basso continuo in A major, Suite for flute, strings and basso continuo in B minor, and Concerto for oboe and violin, strings, and basso continuo in C minor, Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, 3 pm
Nov. 28: Choir of Trinity Wall Street, directed by Julian Wachner, bring their New York voices to perform Bach’s illustrious Mass in B minor at the glorious Saint Jean Baptiste Church, 4237 Henri Julien, 7:30pm
Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Dec. 4: Saint Matthew Passion, Bach’s masterpiece for solo voices and double orchestra, is performed by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano, at 7:30 pm Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and 2:30 pm Dec. 4 at Maison Symphonique, Place des Arts. Dec. 3: Renowned Russian pianist Konstantin Lifshitz, now living in Switzerland, performs all six Bach Partitas in two segments, 5 and 7 pm at Salle Bourgie.
Tickets $15 -$50 Info: 514-989-9668