Sunday, July 19, 2009

CD Review: Baadsvik plays 20th century Tuba Concerti

BIS Records recently released a compilation of tuba concerti by various 20th century composers featuring tuba specialist Øystein Baadsvik, soloist, with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Anne Manson. Featuring works by Vaughan Williams, Alexander Arutiunian, John Williams and Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist, this disc is an exposition of the oft-overlooked versatility of this instrument.

The opening piece by Vaughan Williams, Concerto for Bass Tuba (1954) begins the showcase of Baadsvik’s agile mastery of his instrument. The Prelude is a tasty, grumbling discourse from the soloist, while in the gloriously singing Romanza, Baadsvik takes the reins and runs, describing a sonorous ballet like the dance of a whale—ponderous, slow, alien, and yet singular and undeniably beautiful when in its proper element.

Arutiunian’s work, Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra (1992) is very folkish and spritely—an unusual descriptor for tuba music to say the least. The melodies are originals by the composer yet have the distinct flavor of Eastern European/Near Middle Eastern folk tunes. Lundquist’s moody Landscape for Tuba, String Orchestra and Piano was said by the composer himself to be a direct refutation of the notion that the tuba could not play expressively or cantabile, and it certainly succeeded in that respect. Exciting glissandi like the trumpeting of an elephant and rapid, fiery cadenzas break up the somber, rocky landscape of the composer’s imagination.

John Williams’ Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra (1985) closes out the disc, and is in some ways the most integral work in terms of the solo instrument being a part of the whole rather than the sole reason for its existence. Baadsvik makes good use of the varied textural template, which ranges from moments reminiscent of Williams familiar, scintillating film scores to starkly percussive, idiomatic segments.

In a release that was perhaps meant to disprove our cultural concept of the tuba as either belonging to the accompaniment or evoking a comical (perhaps occasionally sinister) mood when a solo instrument, one has to ask--did the release achieve its goal? Baadsvik is purportedly the only tubist in the world to have pursued a career expressly as a solo performer, without having played in an orchestra or accepted a teaching post. Chances are, whatever range of expression his instrument has to offer, Baadsvik has found it.

At first it is difficult to stop wishing for the tuba to break forth with a clearer, more piercing tone—a tone that, given its relative absence on a release by the tuba's foremost exponent and meant to highlight its versatility, the instrument probably doesn’t possess. This isn’t, after all, a collection of horn or trumpet concerti. In certain moments of the Lundquist, Baadsvik comes close to achieveing this, playing with a timbral tightness that eliminates much of the muted ‘fuzziness’ around the edges. Still, if one stops wishing for something the instrument can’t easily provide, and instead enjoys the rich palate of sound that it does possess, the release achieves its goal admirably, as well as presents some uncommonly heard and quite beautiful music.

Crossposted at NW Reverb.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Filmusik turns to the Spaghetti Western

Filmusik, an area group that promotes live performance in conjunction with film, turned its attention to the spaghetti western in a performance Wednesday, July 15th at the the Hollywood Theatre. Giulio Petroni's classic 1967 film Death Rides a Horse, stripped of the soundtrack (and starring the iconic Lee Van Cleef) was accompanied by a 40-voice choir provided by Opera Theater Oregon and a chamber orchestra courtesy of ECCE New Music. The score was composed by Eugene composers Gracin Dorsey and Sam L. Richards, and the performance was directed by Tuesday Rupp. (Click here for the trailer.)

The soundtrack began with a big choral overture that saw the introduction of the main theme, a full-throated chanting of da uomo a uomo ('from a man to a man') which is the film's title in Italy. The score was suitably over-the-top and self-importantly melodramatic, in exact keeping with the images being presented onscreen.

Dorsey and Richards soundtrack was imaginative and varied. In addition to very melodic and catchy motives(I find myself still humming the main theme two days later), the composers elicited a range of non-musical effects from the performers, including big, swooping glissandi, windy whistling, percussive, aspirant plosions, shouts and a superbly executed refrain of ghost-like wailing from the choir (occasionally a bit much, but they were able to achieve a truly eerie effect with this). The string players were called upon to stamp feet and clap hands along with the singers, and percussionist Heidi Wait deserves special mention for staying on top of a tricky, insular and important part.

Rupp had her hands full managing to keep all these performers in sync with the onscreen action, and she did this superbly--this was the most well-timed performance of this type that I've yet seen in terms of synchronicity between the film and the live performers. (See here and here for other examples of this.) The interesting effect that live film music has is a heightening of the immediacy of the film itself--the overall project becomes a complex, syncopated, multi-layered 'happening', and the audience understands itself as an integral part of the enterprise, not merely a passive bystander to it.

There will be a repeat performance tonight at 7pm at the Hollywood Theatre; if the crowds at this Friday night performance are similar to those present for Plan 9 From Outer Space, arrive early or buy tickets online if you expect to get a seat.

Crossposted at NW Reverb.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

SideNote: How I almost got to meet my hero at Classical Music Northwest

Rankly amateur mandolin player that I am, I've still got my heroes. Some of my favorite mandolinists in the world are Ricky Skaggs, Mike Marshall, Chris Thile and the late great Bill Monroe, may he rest in peace. So last night I'm at the Catlin Gabel School for the first time, excited to hear Chris Thile, a virtuoso of the highest caliber, really an absolute genius on the instrument.

After sitting down, the delightful elderly woman next to me asks why I'm taking notes. I explain to her that I'm writing for Northwest Reverb, a widely read classical music blog based in Portland.

‘What's that?'

I'm not sure if she means ‘what's NW Reverb?' or ‘what's a blog?,' so I break it down for her. After asking if she has a computer (she does) I write down the web address and tell her to just type it into her browser and go from there.

With the utmost seriousness she asks ‘how do we get more young people like yourself out here to these concerts? What can we do to get young people more interested in this great music?' (Or something very close to that.)

I tell her that that particular topic is of great interest for me as well, and explain a little to her about Classical Revolution Portland. She (as well as the gentleman she is with) seem absolutely fascinated by the concept behind it (playing classical music in bars, pubs, coffee shops, other very accessible (and cheaper) venues) and they ask how to find out more about it.

Fortunately for me, Mattie Kaiser, Executive Director of CRPDX and a talented violist, is sitting one row ahead of me. She perks up on hearing me talk about CRPDX and I hand the ball to her so I can read some program notes. Mattie then gives the woman a card, and since I don't have any cards (note to self: get cards!) I take back the paper I had given her and scribble down the Musical Oozings website as well as the CRPDX site for her friend. I then notice to my chagrin that I've got about a half a sheet of paper left in the notebook I'm using, and will have to start writing on the cardboard backing to finish this review. C'est la vie; way to be prepared.

A little about Mattie: in addition to her musical talent, she's definitely a ‘people person': loquacious, gregarious, self-confident, in short, uniquely suited to being an all-around musical gad-about, one of the many hats she wears. I know that she works behind the scenes for CMNW at the Kaul Auditorium shows. After the opening piece, a spectacular transcription of a Haydn piano sonata (click the link to read the actual concert review), Mattie pops back one row to sit next to Kristin and I. (We're sitting in the balcony and the view is quite a bit better from row two than row one.) And then I'll be damned if Chris Thile himself doesn't show up out of the blue and sit right next to Mattie.

Kristin and I exchange excited glances (we're both big fans) and yet, wanting to be nonchalant, I don't say anything, I just wait for Mattie to introduce me. Mattie had been talking about how she was hanging out with the Punch Brothers one night and they started a spontaneous jam, playing long into the evening, drinking and partying. Just as Mattie gets ready to do introduce us, the woman we had been speaking with before launches into a lengthy conversation which eats up the entire time left before the start of the next piece.

Never fear, I tell myself, I'll have a chance to say ‘Hi' afterward. So we get through the fascinating Adams piece (it was so assaultive at points that I wanted to stand up and yell 'bring it on!) and before I have a chance to say anything, Chris hops up and takes his leave, wanting to prepare for the opening of the second half. Never fear, I tell myself, a little less surely, I'll have a chance to meet him after the show.

So I sit there during the intermission, anxiously awaiting my second live performance of Brandenburg #3 in just a little over a week.

"I think I need some night vision goggles," I say jokingly, squinting at my cardboard notes in the dim light.

"Or some paper..." says Mattie, eyeing my makeshift writing surface dubiously. Such dry wit. Touche.

After a fresh rendition of the third Brandenburg, hoping (in vain) that Chris would come up and sit with us again, I get to looking at the next piece, a Sextet for Piano and Strings by Mendelssohn.

I turn to Mattie. "So exactly how much sex is there in a sextet? I've never been entirely clear on that..."

"Ignore him." That would be Kristin's voice, in my other ear.

Mattie laughs. "Well, you can have two threesomes, or three twosomes."

I think for a minute. "That's a lot of sex!"

"Ignore him." Again, a little more insistently this time.

Since when do I need a minder? I ask myself. Better not answer that.

The sextet was fantastic, very sexy indeed, and after the concert ends I look forward to meeting my mandolin hero. First thing I do is go out to buy the Punch Brothers inaugural release How to Grow a Woman from the Ground so I can get it autographed, hopefully by the whole band. Now that would be something. Mattie graciously says that she'll go backstage and see if Chris would be willing to come out and say ‘hi' for a minute, or if I can go backstage to meet him.

The first sign that things are not to go as planned is that there are no more CDs or ‘merch' of any kind out front; the lady selling them has packed up and gone. So Kristin and I are waiting outside by the backstage entrance for Mattie (and hopefully Chris) and I get to visit for a bit with her parents, who are also waiting for her. I introduce myself and they say ‘Oh...we know who you are. From the Baroque Bash.' My reputation precedes me...I hope that's a good thing.

So Mattie comes out a minute later and says Chris isn't back there, but he might be out front. Paul Kowert, the bass player, and Chris Eldridge, the guitarist, are there by where the merchandise table used to be, and they are apparently as confused as I am that it is no longer there. I get to visit with them for a moment...class acts all the way, very polite and humble despite their formidable musical talents. I wait around for a few minutes, but it becomes apparent that Chris won't be making an appearance.

So I decide to leave before I start to cry like a little girl. My disappointment must be painfully obvious; Mattie makes another crack (she's quick that Mattie; she can zing you before you know you've been zung) and Paul seems a little discomfited by the fact that I'm mostly waiting around for the big star, Chris Thile. I try to explain that it's just because I've been a huge fan for years and yada yada yada but I'm sure he's heard it all before. I hope I made clear that it was a great privilege to talk to them and I was in no way diminishing that.

Long story short I leave sans CD, sans having met my mandolin hero. It's not that I wanted to hang out (though I obviously wouldn't have minded) or become the guy's best friend. Just a simple handshake, and to say ‘thanks for all the great music, and you're really an inspiration to me.' Not too much to want, is it, to say ‘your marvelous playing is one of the things that keeps me going when I want to bash myself in the head with my cheap mandolin instead of play it when I get frustrated at my meagre skills (if such they can be called.)' Not that I ever dream of playing as well as he, but that's not the point: it's the inspiration, not the emulation, that matters.

I think my dissapointment was all the more poignant because of the fact that he was right there next to us and I could've spoken to him then, but didn't want to be rude and interrupt the lovely woman next to us who was chatting with him. Don't get me wrong; I blame no one but myself. I had my shot, and I blew it. I guess it's one of those things you just have to do when the opportunity arises: speak now or forever hold your peace, so the saying goes.

And so life goes on. Maybe I'll get a chance to meet Chris someday. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Concert Review: A night of Americana at Chamber Music Northwest

Chamber Music Northwest presented a satisfying, varied program of Americana on Thursday, July 2 in the Kaul Auditorium at Reed College. A number of artists were featured on this night that celebrated American music in honor of our Independence Day weekend.

Opening the program was John Williams' new work Air and Simple Gifts (2009), composed and arranged for (and famously pantomimed during) President Obama's historic inauguration ceremony earlier this year. Featuring David Shifrin on the clarinet, Jennifer Frautschi on violin, Fred Sherry on cello and Anna Polonsky at the piano, this moody yet joyful work aptly set the tone for the program to follow. After a brief introductory air the familiar tune came to the fore. Frautschi and Sherry played wonderfully; with a scaled-back yet spacious timbre that showed respect for this hallowed tune, they deftly handled Williams' tricky fracturing of the main motive between the two instruments.

Next came Leonard Bernstein's Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, (1942), Bernstein's first published work as a professional. Bernstein himself characterized it in part as a 'student work,' and its sometimes unlovely yet never uninteresting structure was a sharp break from the opening. David Shifrin, clarinettist and artistic director of the festival, displayed the smooth, buttery elegance for which he is known, and yet infused his playing with a smarmy wit, very fitting for the non-sequitur interjections which spewed from the clarinet into the grumbling, harmonically complex base laid down by Polonsky the piano.

The half closed with a composition by Aaron Jay Kernis entitled Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby (2006). With the composer Kernis at the piano, Frautschi on the violin, Bryan Johanson playing guitar and Hyunah Yu singing soprano, this dense and complex work was a bit mystifying and suffered from some balance issues. Yu had a lovely voice but it seemed small, and she was frequently drowned out by the violin and piano, which did nothing to help with her diction issues. This piece might have been better served by a soprano with a bigger set of pipes, one willing and able to stake her place amongst the bullying strings, or failing that the violin and piano should have scaled back to fit the needs of the singer, who was really the centerpiece of this composition.

Given that, however, Frautschi was impressive all night long. The range of tonal colors she was able to elicit was exciting to hear, from high-pitched mewlings to a broad, viola-like singing. The guitar sounded nice when one was able to hear it, which was really only when nothing was coming from the violin and piano. Though Yu was drowned out far too often, there were moments of great beauty and emotionally intense import, and her murmuring glissandi and delicate, almost fragile ornamentation were important in bringing out the overall meaning of the piece. This work, especially the final lullaby, seemed ultimately overly-complicated and far too long to expound on the themes presented in the text.

The second half reverted to more traditional fare: a song cycle by Gershwin, and the same composer's Rhapsody in Blue arranged for piano, four hands. Yu and Polonsky teamed up for three of Gershwin's best-loved tunes: The Man I Love, I Got Rhythm, and Summertime. The first was a huge hit with the crowd, but it seemed as though her singing was covered, or muted unnecessarily. In the second tune Yu gave an extremely personable delivery, and it seemed that by the time she got to Summertime, everything fell into place. The last tune worked; her sultry tone and languishing, unhurried manner embodied all that this song is about. It was by far her best delivery of the night.

The Rhapsody in Blue was fun and a sure crowd-pleaser. Polonsky, playing with a sincere and entertaining physicality, was joined by Elizabeth Harcombe, and despite a bit too-heavy sustain pedal at first, they managed to find many of the right orchestral colors and were given a standing ovation.

The final piece of the night was a world premier by Rob Moose entitled New Old River Music: Traditional Melodies in Four Movements. This was performed by the Punch Brothers, a group that is hard to describe as just a bluegrass band (nothing wrong with that), though it seems that bluegrass is where they start...

Featuring young (though incredibly experienced) mandolin phenom Chris Thile, fiddler Gabe Witcher, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert on double bass and Noam Pikelny on banjo (joined by guest clarinettist Shifrin), the Punch Brothers served up a very different offering than the rest of the night's fare.

The first movement, based on Done Gone, began cautiously, with the main theme taken up alternately by fiddle, mandolin and banjo before exploding in glorious ensemble, with a free-flowing, improvisational feel. In the second movement (Midnight on the Water), the clarinet struck up a plaintive theme accompanied by a few ingeniously hesitant plunks from the banjo, and then the rest of the group came in for a surprisingly delicate arrangement. The song turned into a slow country waltz that began right where it started.

The Turtle of Laurel Lake opened with Thile's incomparable gossamer picking on the mandolin, the composition making use of the marvelous facility with which fiddle tunes transcribe to the mandolin. The movement delighted in its clever, untroubled ambience. Big Sciota sounded like slowly gathering drops of rain tinkling alternately from the different instruments in a very tricky pattern, rapidly gathering steam and making use of some surprising, satisfying harmonies and an incredible, judicious use of space. By the end, this ethereal framework had mutated into a good old-fashioned hoe-down like a bolt of thunder out of the blue.

The audience went wild for the Punch Brothers, who returned for an encore sans Shifrin to give a taste of the program being presented tonight, Saturday July 4th, at the same location. Fans of authentic, deeply-felt and impeccably performed American folk music with a twist would be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining concert.

Crossposted at NW Reverb.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Concert Review: PBO presents masterful Brandenburg concert

Oregon Bach Festival audiences were treated to a very rare treat on Monday, June 29th at the First United Methodist Church in Portland. The Portland Baroque Orchestra, one of the nation's premier early music orchestras and a guest ensemble at this year's festival, presented all six of Bach's famous Brandenburg Concertos under the sterling direction of Monica Huggett (who did triple duty as violinist and violist as well.)

These works were composed over a ten-year span while Bach was still a young man, and presented to a music-loving (though ultimately ungrateful) prince, the Margrave of Brandenburg. They represent Bach's foray into the Italian concerto style, and like so many of his efforts they are uniquely his own and yet stand as one of the crowning achievements of the genre. This review shall present them in the order in which they were performed at this concert.

Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046

Carla Moore, violino piccolo, Debra Nagy, oboe, R.J. Kelley, Paul Avril, natural horns

Right from the start, and continuing throughout the night, Huggett set positively brisk tempos, and these lent the works an air of excitement and forward momentum. The opening Allegro felt like it was played by a German festival band, what with this work being in some ways the most 'un-concerto-like' of them all in that there is very little in the way of clearly defined separation between the concertante (soloists) and ripieno (supporting orchestra.) The horns, as Bach no doubt intended, set up a somewhat awkward honking that stood at odds with the smooth texture of the tutti. Kelley and Avril played well, with a minimum of the warbling and quavering which seem to be a natural part of the old valveless brass instruments. The second movement (Adagio) was delectable, with Moore and Nagy engaging in a skillful badinage between the oboe and the feisty violino piccolo, tuned a third higher than the regular violin. In the third movement this small instrument was unfortunately too-often drowned out (as were the brass and winds by the fearsome choir of strings in the first.)

This first concerto stands alone in having four movements, and the fourth presented the most delightful moments of this first concerto: a main menuet theme repeated three times, separated by three sections in which the horns and oboes played alone their own menuets and a Polacca while the ripieno stood silent. The brass and winds were superb in their presentation of these savory, dancing vignettes, while the ripieno varied the da capo menuet dynamically upon each of its returns.

Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050

Monica Huggett, violin, Janet See, flute (transverse), Boris Kleiner, harpsichord

The most virtuosic display in a long evening of such displays undoubtedly belonged to Kleiner, who in the first movement executed the extremely difficult harpsichord solo with crystalline clarity. (Huggett's performance in the Fourth Concerto rivaled Kleiner in this respect.) He segued seamlessly in and out of the dual roles of continuo and soloist, and when he reached the long cadenza all in the room, orchestra and audience alike, remained in awed, respectful silence while Kleiner absolutely tore up the keyboard, a wistful smile of amusement on his face as he played the triplet passages with fierce rapidity and yet cautious delicacy, mindful of the delicate filigree that Bach had provided.

The second movement, marked Affetuoso, was splendid, structurally simple and yet full of the sighing, weeping baroque pathos that is a hallmark of so many of the slow movements of Bach's works. Huggett, See and Kleiner played this trio with marked clarity, infusing it with tender, sombre sentiments without becoming maudlin or overly slow.

Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048

The opening movement of this concerto, again with no real concertante and ripieno sections, rather featuring three trios of strings and continuo, was perhaps the most perfectly executed movement of the entire evening. It was thrilling to hear live a performance that was on par with any of the best recordings that I have ever heard of this work. To use a sports analogy, everyone in this group was 'in the zone,' and the relatively straightforward melodic structure that Bach employs was tossed off from one trio group to the next, constantly moving, always perfectly deployed. The ritornello, or refrain, to which Bach keeps returning over and over never became tiresome--in part because of the breathless tempo that Huggett employed. Each group pushed it forward, and everyone played fearlessly--individually, as a trio, and in aggregate.

In the second movement Huggett engaged a Corelli-esque singing tone in her playing, and the third movement saw a return to the lightning-quick prestissimo of the first. It is hard to imagine this work played any faster than the PBO took it this night, and yet due to their countless combined years of skill and dedication there was no sacrifice of accuracy or interpretation. Concerto No. 3 was perfect.

Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051

Monica Huggett, Vicki Gun Pich, viola, Tonya Tomkins, violoncello

The only real intonation problems of the evening occured as this work opened the second half. It took a dozen bars or so for the group to settle in, both in terms of synchronicity and pitch center. When it did however, the rich, low sonority, aided by the violone and pair of violas da gamba in the continuo, lent this work its uniquely lush character: gallant and philosophically almost post-baroque, especially in the third movement despite the archaic strings for which it was scored. Huggett and Gun Pich really communicated with one another admirably after the slow start, and by and large this concerto was presented with exceptional unity by the small string band.

Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047

Monica Huggett, violin, Kathryn Montoya, recorder, Stephen Bard, oboe, Guy Few, trumpet

In this concerto, arguably the most popular of the group, Bach most closely adheres to the concerto grosso style--that is, a clearly defined concertante that is distinctly separate from a supporting orchestral cast. And what a concertante it is: four disparate instruments forming a group that could rightly stand alone without the backing of the ripieno--in fact it is thought that the music for the concertante was originally written as a stand-alone chamber sonata for those instruments.

The nobility, complexity and virtuosity of this concerto can hardly be overstated. That great nineteenth-century Bach scholar Philipp Spitta rhapsodized thusly about the opening movement: "...How it goes past like a troop of youthful knights with gleaming eyes and waving crests! One [concertante instrument] begins a joyful song which echoes through the tree-tops in the forest; a second and a third take it up, and their comrades chime in in chorus...anon it is heard for an instant, and then wafted away by the wind and drowned by the fluttering of the leaves."

The blend in the concertante was warm and mellifluous, and unlike portions of the first concerto where the horns and winds were sometimes drowned by the strings, the soloists stood apart and there was no problem distinguishing them from the group. Even the recorder, so easily subsumed, was by and large lucid and easily heard. However, at least at the start this movement was the only part of the evening where the tempo seemed to pose somewhat of a problem, as occasionally the soloists seemed to be in a hurry to catch up.

The second movement, a dirge-like sonata a tre for the concertante (minus trumpet) left naked the soloists, demanding of them a scaled down sensibility, a focus drastically narrowed from that required by the rollicking introductory movement, and they responded with the artistry one would expect of this group. The third movement again returned to a blistering tempo, and Few managed a fiendishly difficult part for a fiendishly difficult instrument with admirable grace.

Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049

Monica Huggett, violin, Kathryn Montoya, Debra Nagy, recorders

This concerto was very fitting as the grand finale, and it allowed Huggett to shine in a demanding violin solo that approaches any of the ferociously difficult concertante written by the great concertoist (himself a masterfully adept violinst) Antonio Vivaldi. Huggett displayed the expertly channeled ferocity and daring showmanship that is her trademark style, fitting for one who considers great rock 'n roll guitarists among her foremost musical idols. The recorders played beautifully; a finespun, pastel duo, but they were unfortunately too-often swallowed by the ripieno. I don't know how much of this might be attributed to the vastness of the sanctuary at FUMC; I noticed no such problem with these same works in the very different acoustic space in the PBO's two-concert presentation at First Baptist last year.

During the finale Hugget left everything on the floor. In the spirit of Spitta's fantasy, I might say that like Euterpe Huggett impelled her instrument to call out heroically each time the ritornello appeared--sallying forth as though a daughter of Boudicca, leading the throng back into the fray for rally after rally after rally with unflagging leadership and razor-sharp determination.

The thorough professionalism and informed artistry demonstrated by the soloists and ripieno in all their various combinations throughout the evening were very impressive. The daring, the brashness that came to the fore all throughout this presentation of some of the most difficult works in the orchestral baroque repertoire left in this reviewer nothing but the greatest respect for these rarest of performers, an admiration and a local boy's pride for the beauty and wonder that the Oregon Bach Festival and the Portland Baroque Orchestra bring to the world.


Philipp Spitta--Johann Sebastian Bach--His Work and Influence on the Music of Germany, 1685-1750. (First published in German 1873; first English translation 1884.)

Martin Geck--Johann Sebastian Bach--Life and Work. (First published in German, 2000; English translation 2006 by John Hargraves.)