Last Sunday was Johann Sebastian Bach's 336th birthday, and of course, our celebrated Heinrich Christensen prepared a magnificent virtual gift concert for him, featuring some of Bach's own gifts to the world.
In a prerecorded YouTube concert, Heinrich played the Chorale Partita on Sei Gegrüsset, BWV 768, the Trio sonata in E flat Major, BWV 525, and the Concerto in d minor, BWV 596, which Bach transcribed for organ from Antonio Vivaldi's original Concerto for 2 violins and orchestra.
Heinrich performed, video recorded, and edited the concert (any one of which tasks would've been a challenge) and then hosted a post-concert virtual "Bacchanal"reception, during which his musical friends and he mulled over wine and the music. While it would have been wonderful to hear it in person, everyone agreed that there were benefits to the YouTube version. Through his creative filming and mixing, we were able to see Heinrich's hands, feet, and face during the concert, and as we watched and listened, he commented live in the Chat portion of the screen. Beautiful still shots of details of King's Chapel were inserted in the video.
In his introduction, Heinrich reflected on this mode of solo music-making: spending months all on one's own in the Church practicing, and then performing and recording without an audience. It did not feel like a normal recital, but more like a video diary.
Here are some of Heinrich's Chat notes, which were informal and very interesting:
He explained that he had chosen the gorgeous Chorale Partita, a gentler, more meditative piece than some, especially for this format of hearing the concert on our computers, and perhaps not wanting to have a blast of sound coming at us. He made comments about the organ registrations and stops (eg: Flutes 8 ad 4 on choir, Swell Flute 4, etc.) for his fellow organists in the audience. At one point, the camera revealed that his right hand was playing a duet (the solo melody became a duet).
Bach wrote his Trio Sonatas as practice pieces for his son Wilhelm Friedemann. "These sonatas are a delight to practice and play but very scary to perform, since each line is completely exposed to the merciless scrutiny of the listener!" On this piece he did especially interesting camera work, the three cameras showing his right and left hands and his feet on the pedals, all in one frame.
During the Concerto in d minor, he commented on the acoustic in King's Chapel, that "everything sounds very clear and non-reverberative, which keeps you honest". Funny thing, I've never thought that Heinrich Christensen needed to be kept honest. His playing is impeccable.
If you missed the concert, not to worry. You can go onto the King's Chapel YouTube page and enjoy it:
Sylvia Soderberg, Music Committee Chair