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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

Tender Bach


The fascination of the rarest jewels


I appear to be undergoing change from a reasonably normal classical music man to a Bach freak. This cannot be blamed on cataclysmic happenings in my life, or from some quirky musical passion. My reaction to several CDs from a complete Bach cantata cycle over a period of two months has unleashed a power through this comparatively rare music that now compels me even more than years ago to sit in wondrous suspense whilst Bach's miracles appear to move heaven and earth. Yes, we also experience sublimity from other giants in music; but none of them for me quite exceed the outpourings of JSB. Additionally, the church cantatas, containing many incomparable movements, were generally composed at speed as the next deadline came into view.

Whilst I speak of Bach in this way, I accept that the muse did not hover over all his extant music, leaving his technical mastery to solve some tricky musical equations with supreme brilliance. The fascination of the rarest jewels is the quality buried within them.

Perhaps the human conditions that Bach faced as a musician simply paled in the presence of a giant musical intellect. Grief, as one of the deepest of human emotions, drew Bach to music of such tenderness that we are moved to tears, just as the reverse fills us with joy.

But how futile this verbiage of mine in the presence of the music that nudged it into life! I have no need to explain what you might do to experience these joys for yourself. Obviously many readers will know this music and its place in the Bach treasure trove. Yet there are always folk on the brink of discovery.


Copyright © 30 May 2002 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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