I wonder if Old Man Bach had much of a sense of humor. I wonder how he would feel about the myriad of ways his music, some of the most important composed in Western Civilization, has been treated and performed. It would be a safe conjecture to think of Bach's music as the supreme music organizing model to the time of his Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2. His music has been widely transcribed for other instruments and just as widely re-arranged for the instruments for which they were composed. And, in the vast majority of these treatments, the music remains very good if not vital. So what of Bach arranged for the humble accordion? The results may not be what one expects.
Master accordionist Mie Miki takes on a quarter of the canon on Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon. Yes you have read that right: The Well-Tempered Accordion or even better, The Well-Behaved Accordion. The world is rife with accordion jokes and this is brilliant fuel to the fire. Or, it would be if these performances were not so splendidly refined and thoughtful. Miki, who is professor of accordion at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, is cross-culturally accomplished in music. She has previously released recordings of Japanese composers, as well as a set of accordion miniatures.
Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon immediately strikes me as Uri Caine's delightful Wagner e Venezia (Winter & Winter, 1997). Both recordings illustrate the universality of their core composers. One could imagine hearing this Bach on either the concert stage or in a salon. Or, even better, at a street-side café while enjoying an espresso or glass of vino rouge. To be sure, Miki is all business and this recording is not some quaint interpretation of the Great Master. That said, it is familiar, accessible, and warmly received when heard and I credit that to the accordion more than anything.
Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, Books I and II – Selected preludes and fugues: C major, BWV 846; C minor, BWV 847; B flat minor, BWV 891; D major, BWV 850; F major, BWV 880 · B flat minor, BWV 867; F sharp major, BWV 858; F sharp minor, BWV 883 · G major, BWV 884; G minor, BWV 861; D major, BWV 874; B minor, BWV 86
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