Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

by Víkingur Ólafsson



Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson emerged from considerable popularity in his native country, signing with Deutsche Grammophon and releasing an attractive album of music by Philip Glass. With his second album for the label, Johann Sebastian Bach, he ups the stakes; the title itself announces a grand ambition to reimagine the compositions of the first master of keyboard music. Ólafsson rightly points out that the Bach canon is constantly changing, and indeed many of the pieces on his program are not very familiar. Sample the "Aria variata, BWV 989," both to hear a marvelous Bach piece that's not one of the common ones, and to experience Ólafsson's piano style, detailed and pianistic without, for the most part, being Romantic. He's a compelling pianist who can take an audience through a wide range of sounds, and his Bach demands attention. He also tries to climb the Bach mountain and plant a new flag at the top, and here he may overreach. Ólafsson ignores Bach's tendency to think in sets, and he picks individual pieces and stacks them up for cumulative effect. There's nothing wrong with this per se, but the program builds in sheer volume toward the end, with the pedal, sparsely applied at the start, playing a greater and greater role. Reactions to this will differ: Ólafsson has the technical equipment to pull off this grand gesture, but whether it fits Bach is something for the listener to decide. A Bach recording that demands attention.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/14/2018
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
UPC: 0028948350223
catalogNumber: 002889202


  1. Prelude and Fughetta, for keyboard in G major, BWV 902 (BC L79): Prelude

    1. Prelude  (03:26)
  2. Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein (I), chorale prelude for organ, BWV 734 (BC K125)  (01:51)
  3. Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 10 in E minor (WTC I/10), BWV 855 (BC L89)

    1. Prelude  (02:03)
    2. Fugue  (01:16)
  4. Trio Sonata for organ No. 4 in E minor, BWV 528 (BC J4): 2. Adagio

    1. 2. Adagio  (05:26)
  5. Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 5 in D major (WTC I/5), BWV 850 (BC L84)

    1. Prelude  (01:02)
    2. Fugue  (01:45)
  6. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (II), chorale prelude for organ (Achtzehn Choräle No. 8), BWV 659 (BC K82)  (05:04)
  7. Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 2 in C minor (WTC I/2), BWV 847 (BC L81)

    1. Prelude  (01:24)
    2. Fugue  (01:38)
  8. Cantata No. 54, "Widerstehe doch der Sünde," BWV 54 (BC A51): Aria

    1. Aria  (04:26)
  9. Aria variata, for keyboard in A minor ("In the Italian Style"), BWV 989 (BC L179)

    1. Aria  (01:50)
    2. Variation 1  (01:09)
    3. Variation 2  (00:55)
    4. Variation 3  (00:55)
    5. Variation 4  (00:55)
    6. Variation 5  (00:59)
    7. Variation 6  (02:06)
    8. Variation 7  (00:47)
    9. Variation 8  (00:49)
    10. Variation 9  (01:08)
    11. Variation 10  (01:46)
    12. Aria da capo  (01:18)
  10. Two-Part Invention, for keyboard No. 12 in A major, BWV 783 (BC L53)  (01:19)
  11. Three-Part Invention (Sinfonia), for keyboard No. 12 in A major, BWV 798 (BC L53)  (01:23)
  12. Partita for solo violin No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006: 3. Gavotte

    1. 3. Gavotte  (02:48)
  13. Prelude for keyboard in E minor (WFN 18; variant of BWV 855), BWV 855a  (03:00)
  14. Three-Part Invention (Sinfonia), for keyboard No. 15 in B minor, BWV 801 (BC L56)  (01:19)
  15. Two-Part Invention, for keyboard No. 11 in G minor, BWV 782 (BC L52)  (01:11)
  16. Concerto for solo keyboard No. 3 in D minor (after Alessandro Marcello), BWV 974 (BC L194)

    1. 1. Andante  (02:17)
    2. 2. Adagio  (04:10)
    3. 3. Presto  (03:31)
  17. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (I), chorale prelude for organ (Orgel-Büchlein No. 41), BWV 639 (BC K68)  (03:08)
  18. Fantasia and Fugue, for keyboard in A minor, BWV 904 (BC L136)

    1. Fantasia  (03:54)
    2. Fugue  (05:14)

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