Biscuits & Bach is a four-hour program hosted by Rachel Stewart and featuring music from the Renaissance to the Baroque and beyond. Rachel welcomes the occasional guest and shares a recipe or two. It's food for the soul and soul food on a Sunday morning.
This week on Biscuits and Bach, we feature a double-CD album, Bach: 6 Partitas by Andras Schiff.
One of the things that makes this recording unique is Schiff’s reordering of the works: He orders them according to descending keys: G - a - B flat - c - D - e. It’s very effective and, if anything, makes for a more satisfying musical experience than simply listening to them in order, starting with the cheerful fifth partita, working through to the craggy grandeur of the sixth which finally slips from E minor into G major.
Albrecht Mayer is the Principal Oboe of the Berlin Philharmonic, and he's had a lifelong love of Bach's music. Bach didn't write much solo music for the oboe; so, in 2010 Mayer put out a recording of oboe concerti and chorales that were created from Bach cantata movements by arranger Andreas Tarkmann. We'll feature the album called Voices of Bach this week.
And for Father's Day, Dr. Raymond Erickson, Professor Emeritus (The Worlds of J.S. Bach) of Music at Queens College and the Graduate Center of CUNY, joins us to talk about Bach's family life.
Although he’s considered a relatively minor player in the history of Baroque music, Johann Friedrich Fasch was well known in his day, and his music was widely performed in Germany. Both Telemann and Bach admired Fasch and led performances of his compositions. He was regarded highly enough that he was offered the position of Cantor at St. Thomas in Leipzig, but he turned it down, and the city leaders had to settle for a candidate who was lower down their list, J.S. Bach.
This week we listen to Edinburgh based Ensemble Marsyas perform music by Fasch from their new recording, J.F. Fasch: Quartets and Concertos. Ensemble Marsyas is comprised of some of Europe’s most talented early music specialists.
Most people don't realize that pianist and Bach interpreter Glenn Gould wrote a string quartet, his Opus 1. The discovery of the existence of this quartet by the young musicians of The Catalyst Quartet led to their interest in arranging Bach's Goldberg Variations for their ensemble. After months of arranging, editing and reworking their transcription, they have recorded it for posterity. We'll listen to it this week.
And Rachel talks with barbecue pit master, Brent Babb, about the art of barbecuing pork and about how he came up with his Babb-A-Q Sauce recipe.
Henry Purcell wrote a number of musical dramas or semi-operas, the last of which is The Indian Queen. Purcell was unable to complete the score before his untimely death, and consequently, it is one of his least performed stage works. But the renowned early music choral group, The Sixteen along with founder/leader Harry Christophers, has just recorded the work and released it on their Coro label. We feature it this week.
And Rachel Stewart talks with Bela Fleck about why he doesn’t just play traditional banjo music and to what degree he likes his bread toasted.
May 24, 2015 Biscuits and Bach Bach’s music is flexible. It can and has been arranged for just about any instrument combination you can think of. But have you ever heard it played on a mandocello? This week we listen to a new recording with a refreshing take on Bach’s Inventions and Organ Duos by two of the world’s top mandolinists, Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall. Lichtenberg plays mandolin while Marshall plays mandocello, a lower pitched, larger member of the mandolin family which is to the mandolin as the cello is to the violin. These engaging and playful arrangements are a great accompaniment to Sunday mornings.
Bach's Flute Sonatas are some of the most important works of the flute repertoire. They're also some of the earliest. It is thought Bach stopped writing as much music for the recorder after first hearing a transverse flute around 1715. This week we listen to the 1993 recording of Bach's Flute Sonatas by American flutist Paul Fried who has spent a lifetime studying these works.
We also talk with Tom Lewtak from Lewtak Organ Builders who has spent his life with pipe organs, first as an organist and then as an organ builder. Hear what it's like to make a living in this unusual profession.
On April 27th the classical music world lost a major figure when trumpeter and co-founder of the Empire Brass, Rolf Smedvig, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 62. Biscuits and Bach this Sunday pays tribute to him by spotlighting his 1993 Telarc label album, “Ceremonial Music for Trumpet & Organ.” We enjoy Mr. Smedvig's beautiful tone and virtuosity in selections by Handel, Mouret, Purcell and Bach.
During the Baroque period, the French and Italian styles of composition were prominent, and each had its camp of champions. French composer Francois Couperin brought the rival styles together in his lengthy masterpiece, Les Nations (in English, The Nations). In each of The Nations' four suites, Couperin puts the Italian trio sonata next to the French dance suite achieving an artistically diplomatic result.
Juilliard Baroque, made up of respected early music specialists, has just released a recording of Couperin's massive work on the Naxos label, and we feature it this week.
April 26, 2015 Biscuits and Bach Sir James Galway is much beloved by classical music audiences, and he's the most celebrated flutist in the world. In honor of his 75th birthday, all of his recordings for RCA Red Seal have been issued together as a 73-cd box set. We'll focus on the baroque recordings among them this week.
And Sir James will join Rachel for a chat about Mozart, Bach, Pink Floyd and grits. You'll be amazed by how well he understands this Southern delicacy.
Antonio Vivaldi wrote an astonishing number of concerti for bassoon, 37 complete and 2 fragments. We don’t know exactly what inspired this prodigious output. Were they written for a bassoon virtuoso? A bassoon afficianado? One of the students at the Venetian girls school where Vivaldi worked? We’ll probably never know for sure, but Canadian bassoonist, Nadina Mackie Jackson is on a mission to record them all. She’s made a start with an album she calls Volumn One. We listen to tracks from it this week.
This Sunday, we feature J.S. & C.P.E. Bach: Sonatas For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord Transcribed For Cello. The album features two members of London’s baroque ensemble, The Brook Street Band, hailed as "the smartest new baroque band around" by The Times, London.