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Bach and Beyond

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Album Review

Jazz musicians have been taking themes (and even large-scale compositions) of Johann Sebastian Bach and giving them jazz settings for years — the Modern Jazz Quartet did so famously in the 1950s, and the Jacques Loussier Trio has set up a virtual cottage industry in that practice more recently. It would be natural to expect something similar from an album of improvisations titled Bach & Beyond. But Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero isn't a jazz pianist — she's a classical pianist who improvises, and although there are jazz-inflected moments on this collection of two- to seven-minute extemporizations, the overall sound is a decorous blend of Baroque and romantic styles with occasional passages suggesting turn-of-the-century salon music and South American dance genres as well. One of Montero's favorite techniques is to take a major-key theme and play it through before knocking it down into a dark minor-key variation, and then take that as the starting point for a long series of cyclical variations — note, for example, her treatments of an aria from the "Goldberg Variations" and of the familiar "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" melody. Her Latin roots are exposed nicely on a brief and exhilarating expansion of one of Bach's two-part inventions, while she indulges her more contemplative side on a sweet and lovely rendition of "Sheep May Safely Graze." Those who consider Bach's music a temple that must not be sullied or contaminated by mere mortals may want to steer clear, but the rest of us will find much to enjoy here.

Customer Reviews

My absolute favorite is Air in G 😍

Gives me chills. I am a pianist and I would really really like to learn these songs. They're beautiful

Biography

Born: May 10, 1970 in Caracas, Venezuela

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A classical piano prodigy from Venezuela, Gabriela Montero has played with some of the world's most storied orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Philharmonic, and the NDR in Hannover, Germany. Her first performance, at the age of five, led to a concerto debut with the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra ‘Simon Bolivar' just three years later. She was given a scholarship by her nation's government, and went on to study in the United States. Before she reached her teens, she had already...
Full Bio

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Bach and Beyond, Gabriela Montero
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  • $6.99
  • Genres: Classical, Music
  • Released: May 01, 2006

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