New album by Matt Haimovitz: Overtures to Bach
Matt Haimovitz's continuously-evolving and intense engagement with the Bach Cello Suites reaches a new zenith with Overtures to Bach, six new commissions that anticipate and reflect each of the cello suites. The new overtures expand upon the multitude of spiritual, cross-cultural, and vernacular references found in the Bach, building a bridge from the master's time to our own. Overtures to Bach, released internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series in August, follows the 2015 release of Haimovitz's profound new interpretation of the Bach Suites, inspired and informed by an authoritative manuscript by Bach's second wife and performed on period instruments.
"I've been playing and thinking about the Bach Cello Suites for over three decades," says Haimovitz, "and with these new commissions – a culminating moment in my relationship with the Suites – I feel like I'm giving back to Bach. I've asked six composers, whom I admire so much, to engage with his music. It's my form of time travel – going back into the mind of Bach through the compositional process of these composers today."
Overtures to Bach pairs each of the new works with the Prélude, newly recorded here, from the Suite it introduces. Philip Glass simply and eloquently prepares the audience for the first Suite with his Overture, encouraging an open frame of mind. For the second suite, Du Yun creates a heartbreaking lament in The Veronica, referencing a Russian Orthodox prayer for the dead, Serbian chant, and central European gypsy fiddle music. Vijay Iyer's Run responds to Bach's third suite with infectious energy and kinesthetic rhythms that celebrate the natural resonance of the instrument as well as the composer's jazz roots. Then, Roberto Sierra's La memoria plays on our memory of Bach's Suite IV, referencing motivic fragments while creating a kaleidoscopic musical perspective, underpinned by Caribbean bass lines and salsa rhythms. David Sanford's tour de force, Es War, leads into the fifth suite, with a Mingus-inspired pizzicato intro, alluding to Bach's epic fugue and quoting a Bach cantata. For the sixth and final suite, Luna Pearl Woolf is inspired by pre-Western Hawaiian chant, taking full advantage of the virtuosic properties of the 5-string cello piccolo and treating it operatically, from the low bass to the soprano stratosphere. Overtures to Bach spans more than time, linking us to far-flung corners of our musical world and offering an entrée into six distinct compositional voices. Then, as Philip Glass writes, "Just let Bach's music begin. It's there for the listening."
Matt Haimovitz spoke with WCLV's Angela Mitchell.