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Track Listing:

J.S. Bach: Prelude & Fughetta in G Major, BWV 902 - 1. Prelude
Chorale Prelude BWV 734
Prelude & Fugue in E Minor - Prelude
Organ Sonata No. 4, BWV 528 - 2. Andante
Prelude & Fugue in D Major, BWV 850 - 1. Prelude
Chorale Prelude BWV 659
Prelude & Fugue in C Minor, BWV 847 - 1. Prelude
Widerstehe doch der Sunde, BWV 54
Aria variata in A Minor, BWV 989 - Aria
Variation I. Largo
Variation II
Variation III
Variation IV. Allegro
Variation V. Un poco allegro
Variation VI. Andante
Variation VII. Un poco allegro
Variation VIII. Allegro
Variation IX
Variation X
Aria da capo
Invention No. 12 in A Major, BWV 783
Sinfonia No. 12 in A Major, BWV 798
Suite from the Partita No.3 in E Major for Solo Violin, BWV 1006 - 2. Gavotte
Prelude In E Minor, BWV 855
Sinfonia No. 15 in B Minor, BWV 801
Invention No. 15 in B Minor, BWV 786
Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 - 1. Andante
Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 - 2. Adagio
Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 - 3. Presto
Chorale Prelude BWV 639
Fantasia & Fugue in A Minor, BWV 904 - 1. Fantasia

Vikingur Olafsson :

Johann Sebastian Bach

Following his critically acclaimed recording of piano works by Philip Glass, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson will release his second concept album, Bach, on Deutsche Grammophon on September 7, 2018 (CD released 9/14). The album is available for pre-order everywheretoday.

Renowned for his innovative musical projects, Ólafsson offers listeners a very personal vision of Bach's intricate keyboard music on his new recording – artfully weaving Bach's original works together with transcriptions by Busoni, Kempff, Ziloti, Rachmaninov and Ólafsson himself. Ólafsson will also perform some of the repertoire from the album live at venues including London's LSO St Luke's, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (Denmark), Hamburg's Laeiszhalle, and the Berlin Philharmonie during the 2018-19 season.

The Icelandic pianist first made the classical music world sit up and take notice when his debut DG album – a selection of Philip Glass's piano works – was released in January 2017. Since then, the cosmopolitan Ólafsson, now only 34 years old, has taken his rightful place in the international concert scene, impressing all with his lightning-quick mind and brilliant musical insights. Ólafsson now follows his recordings of Glass, a creator of dense minimalist structures, with his own interpretations of Bach, one of the most complex of composers. "If Glass's music is minimal, then Bach's is maximal," Ólafsson jokes. "There are no tempo or dynamic indications in his scores, so I have the same kind of freedom as I do when performing Glass."

For Ólafsson, the opportunity to craft an entire album focusing on Bach is a gift. "It would all mean nothing without Bach," says Ólafsson. He ought to know. Johann Sebastian Bach's music has accompanied him since childhood and there is no other composer whose music he has studied more intensively. "There isn't just one Bach," Ólafsson explains. "There's not just the serious Bach, Bach the Christian, or Bach the genius. There's also the playful Bach, the provocative Bach, the amazingly creative Bach, the spectacular Bach and the Bach who explored the full potential of his keyboard instruments." The pianist was keen to display all of these facets on his new album and spent months refining the progam to find the perfect order in which to present his chosen pieces.

The result resembles a single extended, free-flowing composition, in which the juxtaposition of Bach's original works and other composers' transcriptions reveals the timeless character of Bach's music. The subtle thematic and harmonic connections between the individual works produce an internal order that grasps the listener. Excerpts from the Well-Tempered Clavier such as the Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 850 and Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 855, as well as contrapuntal gems such as the Sinfonia No. 15 in B minor, BWV 801 and Invention No. 15 in B minor, BWV 786 are all beautifully concise examples of Bach's compositional art, showcasing him, in Ólafsson's own words, as the "master of the short story."

The pianist has also incorporated contributions from other composers: Rachmaninov's arrangement of the Gavotte from the Partita No. 3 for Violin in E major, BWV 1006; Busoni's transcription of the chorale "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ;" and Ziloti's arrangement of the Prelude No. 10 in E minor, BWV 855a (transposed by Ziloti to B minor). Ólafsson also includes his own fascinating transcription from the solo cantata for alto, "Widerstehe doch der Sünde." At the structural heart of the album lies the rarely performed Aria variata, BWV 989, and Ólafsson concludes the album with the equally seldom heard Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, BWV 904.

Ólafsson believes very strongly that there is no definitive answer to the question of how Bach should be interpreted today. "Anyone who claims to have found a ‘solution to Bach,'" he argues, "is pretty certain to be wrong." In reality, Bach's music poses "some wonderful questions" and offers "an infinite number of ways of being understood and performed," and Ólafsson loves nothing more than sitting at the piano and exploring those myriad questions.