Friday, November 13, 2015
I WOKE UP with Bach's 3rd Orchestral Suite in my head, so I listened to Savall's recording of it, and it seemed to me that it was like the Creation of the World as described in the book of Genesis. Like the biggest of big bangs, it begins with a bubble of energy, effervescent, from which a few themes emerge. It's turbulent and pregnant with possibilities. Then there's a movement of transcendent beauty (the famous Air)--this is 'the Spirit of God hovering over the waters'. It's impossible not to be charmed by the serenity and pace of this music. This movement is the spiritual heart of this suite and it really does take you to another place, a place of movement in repose. The rest of the Suite introduces different forms, some rhythmic in purpose and others with soft beauty. These are the forms that emerge from the primal emptiness at the beginning of the work. The Heart Sutra is relevant here, 'form is emptiness, emptiness is form'. It might be fanciful to think of Bach having such thoughts in mind as he composed the work, but who knows? We know that he wrote everything to the glory of God. It's a fancy I enjoy.
c Kenneth Rowley 2015
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