‘I play Bach every day,’ said Shostakovich in 1950, at an event to mark the bicentenary of Bach’s death. ‘For us, Bach's legacy is an embodiment of flaming emotion, soulful humanity and true humanism, which stands in contrast to the dark world of raw evil and contempt for humanity.’
Taking their inspiration from these words, and from the palpable influence of Bach on the solid forms and fluent counterpoint of Shostakovich’s own music, this quartet of musicians presents an entirely original pairing of the two composers, in which cantata arias and a major song-cycle are linked and interspersed by instrumental interludes.
The German soprano Dorothee Mields is renowned for her piercing musicianship and luminous tone in the music of Bach, working with such illustrious conductors as Rene Jacobs and Philippe Herreweghe. Her contributions to recent recordings in this field have been called ‘sensational’ and ‘ravishing’ by Gramophone.
Here she sings recitatives and arias from seven cantatas, including the meditative opening movement of ‘Ich bin in mir vergnügt BWV204’. The trio-sonata accompaniment brings her expressive handling of the text to the fore, and prefaces the arias with the G major Sonata BWV1021 for violin and continuo, while Luca Quintavalle contributes the sixth Prelude and Fugue from Book 2 of ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’. Switching to piano for Shostakovich, Quintavalle plays the D major Prelude and Fugue from the Russian composer’s counterpart to the WTC. The early Piano Trio No.1 makes a Romantically yearning preface to the late settings of Alexander Blok which Shostakovich composed alongside the song-cycle Fourteenth Symphony. These songs find the composer at his most introspective, unsparing and yet rewarding of the subtlety which Mields brings to them. The idioms of Bach and Shostakovich complement as much as they contrast, and they are drawn together here by performances of powerful eloquence.
- This innovative concept album brings together two composers worlds. Centuries apart, but still intensely and closely connected: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975).
- Shostakovich about Bach: "Bach's influence is truly enormous. I play Bach every day. For us, Bach's legacy is an embodiment of flaming emotion, soulful humanity and true humanism, which stands in contrast to the dark world of raw evil and contempt for humanity.” Shostakovich played both volumes of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier already at the age of twelve. For him: "Every prelude and fugue by Bach can be played at any tempo, with or without any nuance, in any case it will be wonderful. That is how one must compose".
- The concept of Salvation, the healing and connecting power of music, shines through in the works presented here: arias from Bach Cantatas, a Bach Violin Sonata with B.C. and two Preludes and Fugues from his Well-Tempered Clavier are included, as are Shostakovich Piano Trio Op.8 and his 7 Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok.
- Soprano Dorothee Mields is one of the leading interpreters of 17th- and 18th-century music and is admired for her unique timbre and moving interpretations. She regularly collaborates with the Collegium Vocale Gent, Orchestre des Champs- Élysées, Netherlands Bach Society, Freiburger Barockorchester, Bachakademie Stuttgart and many others.
- The period instrument G.A.P. Ensemble consists of Emilio Percan, violin, Oriol Aymat Fusté, violoncello, and Luca Quintavalle, harpsichord/fortepiano. They worked with artists like Viktoria Mullova, Daniel Hope, Cecilia Bartoli, Christophe Rousset, Fabio Biondi, Julia Lezhneva, Raffaella Milanesi and Hille Perl and performed at some of the most renowned concert halls in the world, for example Berliner Philharmonie, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, Tokyo Opera City Center Hall and Palau de la Música Barcelona.