Who doesn’t love an ambitious group project? My boy recently clued me in to All of Bach, a project of the Netherlands Bach Society to celebrate their upcoming centenary in 2021.
It is, or will be, exactly what it says it is: All of Bach. (Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685-1750.) Pristine recordings, on period instruments with the old tunings, in correct settings—chamber music in living rooms, cantatas in churches. They publish a new video recording every two weeks, and in the weeks between new recordings they highlight a previous release.
Each recording is supported by interviews and documentary videos about the decisions made, the musicians and the instruments. You do not have to be knowledgeable about classical music to enjoy it. At the project’s core is the same kind of enthusiasm we knitters feel about Elizabeth Zimmermann and heritage sheep breeds. It’s accessible to anyone with curiosity.
Each piece has its own page on the elegant All of Bach website, which you can search here. As of this writing, they are up to 266 works, which you can filter by instrument. You can listen to the videos on the website, or cue them up on YouTube and let them roll while you knit.
Up top is Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, performed by Lucia Swarts. This piece is so good that even bank commercials cannot ruin it. Swarts talks about playing and teaching the piece here, and about her complicated relationship with her Pieter Rombouts 1705 cello here. She’s my new internet best friend! (If she doesn’t knit, I don’t want to know.) Also interesting: each of Bach’s 6 cello suites is performed by a different cellist. They even do the one that requires a chin-cello that has five strings.
JSB 4ever! This is what the internet is for.
P.S. If you’ve ever wondered what three harpsichords living their best lives sounds like, here you go. It is, and I quote, “a wall of sound.” I have been advised to listen with headphones so the orchestra can be heard.