BachSpace is a musical project that brings together violinist Etienne Abelin, pianist Tamar Halperin and audio designer Tomek Kolczynski, around the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. It is largely based on his sonatas for violin and keyboard—BWV 1014, 1016, 1018 and 1019—, as well as his keyboard preludes—BWV 846 and 999—and sonatas for violin—BWV 1005. In addition to being arranged and performed, and put through the filter of electronic music, Bach’s pieces also constitute the basis for brand new hybrid works (or constellations) from the trio.
The first constellation, Vintage Moon, starts on the well-known BWV 846. Shortly complemented by the pleasant surprise of BWV 1005, flowing over it in such a natural way that one could ask if these two pieces were not originally meant to be together. A hint at Bach’s genius. From this glimpse into the Baroque era, Kolczynski brings us back to our times with two pulsating and evocative trips that are PERLE and ADA, eventually returning to the Adagio from BWV 1005.
Electric Rain, possibly the darkest of the four constellations, is based on BWV 1019 and 1016. After the tripping episode of Vintage Moon, BWV 1019 appears as an agreeable pause, however quickly interrupted by LAGO, an anxious bass driven soundscape which seemed to be borrowed from a Darren Aronofsky soundtrack.
Hiraeth—a Welsh word that could roughly be understood by the concept of nostalgia—is elegantly illustrated by the saddening chords and melody of BWV 1014. Where Electric Rain had left us with a feeling of unsettlement, Hiraeth brings us the beauty of melancholy, followed by VOODOO, a complementary blur. Furthermore, BWV 1016 comes in with its evocative and sensitive violin melody. NANNA, the last transitive work of the album provides us with a moment of perdition before BachSpace reaches its end.
The final constellation, 999, closes the album on an exciting and perhaps dancing interpretation of BWV 999, and slowly introduces the superimposed static melody of BWV 1018, followed by a suite of electronic episodes, fragmenting, layering, chaining and looping Bach’s material until it seems to vanish on its own.
The adaptation and borrowing of existing music—formerly known as pastiches—is somehow traditional to composers and arrangers. But BachSpace is more than a mere reinterpretation or recomposition. To borrow the words of Wyndham Wallace, it is truly a recontextualisation of Bach’s music. Demonstrating both how powerful and timeless his body of works is, but also how - when placed between good hands - it is the seed to beautiful original material, and a moment of pure musical bliss, crossing the bridge between the past and today.