Roger Woodward presents the most exciting Bach since Glenn Gould When Roger Woodward in January of 2007, shortly before the recording took place in Bavaria, added Bach to his concert program at the Radio Bremen concert hall to Debussy and Chopin, some eyebrows were raised; Woodward just gave the explanation that to him Bach was a romantic composer as well. This sounds only daring and unexpected until you hear this recording. And one should keep in mind that the eminent German musicologist Friedrich Blume wrote more than half a century ago: ... Bach's language anticipated much which was later expressed during the German romantic era . This is Woodward's first Bach recording although Woodward had played Bach for a lifetime. As one would expect from a musician's of Woodward's rank and status, it's a performance outside of the template. Already the first part, the Fantasia of BWV 903, - written in Coethen around 1720 shows a deep understanding of might have animated Bach to precede the fugue with this 'free' and seemingly unstructured composition. Woodward plays it as a Fantasia but in the ensuing Fugue lays bare the structure but takes all the liberties which Bach always had expected of himself as well as of all performers of his music. The Partitas No. 2 and 6 go back to the time around 1720 in Coethen as well, not much distant in time from the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue BWV 903; they originated in Bach's most creative period for secular music and show the composer at the height of his creative power. Bach himself published the partitas in 1726 in Leipzig. It illuminates Woodward's interpretation that he took a full 3 minutes more for the recording of the Partita No. 6, compared to his concert performance. It is a deeper, more considerate, thought-through version, allowing for fine details which possibly cannot come across in the concert hall compared to the intimacy of a recording studio. Woodward's first Bach CD was recorded in January of 2007 in Wörthsee, Bavaria, on the same Steinway D piano which Woodward had played for his recording of the complete Chopin Nocturnes (Celestial Harmonies 14260-2) a year earlier; now Woodward is on the best of terms with the instrument as well as with his producer and recording engineer Ulrich Kraus; in between the two had also collaborated on the recording of Peter Michael Hamel's grand cycle 'Of The Sound Of Life' (Celestial Harmonies 13256-2). Woodward speaks of his new-found friend with much appreciation, calling him a fellow musician rather than just an engineer. Of the Bach interpretations of the past, George Malcolm, Helmut Walcha, Gustav Leonhardt, to name a few, Woodward speaks with the greatest of respect. Nevertheless he goes further and beyond everything that could be called orthodox or conservative. It is an organic development though, integrating all the possibilities of a first-rate modern instrument as no doubt Bach would have done, had such an instrument been available in his day. Woodward continues what Glenn Gould in the 1960s and Alexis Weissenberg in the 1970s had begun: To see and understand Bach as an always new contemporary composer whose unequaled greatness shows itself in the endless possibilities of an ever-new understanding.
About the Artist
Currently resident in San Francisco, Roger Woodward performs with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, New York, Los Angeles and Israel Philharmonics, Orchestre de Paris, the Cleveland Orchestra, London orchestras and European Community Gustav Mahler Jugend-orchester, with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Paavo Berglund, Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, Eliahu Inbal, James Judd, Eric Leinsdorf, Lorin Maazel, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Roger Norrington, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Witold Rowicki, Walter Susskind, Georg Tintner, Edo de Waart, and Hans Zender.