w J.S. Bach’s Six Keyboard Partitas

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J.S. Bach’s Six Keyboard Partitas

Michael Arnowitt, piano

Partita no. 1 in B-flat major
Partita no. 2 in C minor
Partita no. 3 in A minor
Partita no. 4 in D major
Partita no. 5 in G major
Partita no. 6 in E minor

Bach said on the title page of his publication of the six partitas, “composed for music-lovers, to refresh their spirits.” Bach’s music has appealed to centuries of listeners for its spirituality, rhythmic life, and purity of sound. His six partitas are particularly cherished by pianists as topline pieces universally regarded as among Bach’s very best compositions for keyboard alongside the Goldberg Variations and the prelude and fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier.

The partitas take as their starting point old dance traditions from different countries of Europe. Bach created musical shapes evocative of not just the arm and leg motions of these dances, but more generally of many aspects of everyday living: walking, running, even the act of thinking and countless human emotions are touched on in these extraordinary pieces. The true achievement of these partitas is how Bach magically transforms these shapes far beyond background music for dance to the pure, spiritual, joyful, and lively music of his own unique soundworld that is some of the most satisfying music ever created. Although written 300 years ago, the elements of Bach’s musical language remains at the heart of much of what you hear in the musical culture of today.

Michael Arnowitt has throughout his career been gradually learning all six of Bach’s partitas, and he is very excited to be ready now to present the complete set in performance. These partitas, which will also be the music of his next piano recording, each has its own distinct personality and character. Spanning the full range of human experience, the six partitas are surprisingly different from each other, at times youthful, mature, resolute, vulnerable, playful, and profound.

Michael Arnowitt is well recognized as an outstanding interpreter of the music of Bach, having performed the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I in its entirety in single concerts in Boston and New York City, and the Goldberg Variations on tours in Belgium and Russia. He has conducted from memory Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. John Passion, two of the composer’s great masterworks for chorus and orchestra. In 2013, he presented his creative transformation of Bach’s Italian Concerto for solo keyboard into a true concerto for piano and orchestra.

After a lifetime of reflecting on Bach, gaining insights and developing musically, Michael Arnowitt offers this program of Bach partitas as a wonderful opportunity for audiences to hear the pianist perform live these remarkable and unique masterpieces.

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