Switched on Bach?

Radio 3 on Christmas Eve. Terrific programme about Bach’s music as the inspiration for dance performance. Having grown up thinking of Bach as essentially cerebral, something to revise to, logical, mathematical; being invited to hear it as music you can move to was a revelation. Odd how mental categories can get in the way of a perception that should be obvious. Some of the movements are written as forms of dance in the first place (passacaglia) but why did it take someone to point that out to be able to hear it as such? The weird discipline of classical concerts, where everyone sits still (or twitches a bit) until vast stretches of music have wound their way to an eventual end; when all the pent up emotion comes out in a ritualised prolonged applause (and some cheers) may be part of that. A concert of classical music explicitly put on as something to bop to might be an interesting, liberating experience for all concerned.

The following programme, about Jazz reinterpretations was a gem too. The double concerto played by the Hot Club of Paris (in the style of the Hot Club of Paris) reinforced a thought that I have had for some time that any piece of music has much more potential than its habitual form. Inside (for example) the Glory of Prussia march, usually played as intended as a piece of goosestepping Teutonic swank, there is a tremendous swing number trying to get out. Imagine it played by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

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