Víkingur Ólafsson – Johann Sebastian Bach

Víkingur Ólafsson – Johann Sebastian Bach

Friday, 7 September 2018, 12.00pm

Fifth album by Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, released on Deutsche Grammophon in September 2018.



Toner Quinn 1

The track or piece of music I enjoyed most: 

Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein: Chorale Prelude, BWV 734 (transription by Wilhelm Kempff)

Why I gave the above rating: 

This album by Víkingur Ólafsson first caught my attention because he had selected so freely and extensively from Bach's keyboard work rather than present a complete set of one type of work – preludes and fugues, or partitas for example. Ólafsson describes that kind of approach as 'a 20th-century fetish'. Instead, the thirty-six year old Icelandic pianist has included everything from Bach inventions to fantasias plus his own transcriptions. The whole album has a freshness about it. It was really the skill of the second track, however – a Wilhelm Kempff transcription of a chorale prelude – that drew me in further. Listen to the balance between right and left hands, the former darting across the keyboard, the left grandly performing the melody and running bass. Ólafsson is a virtuoso, but also has an imaginative approach to the music. Once you have listened to this album, try his Bach Reworks: Part 2, released last year, in which he moves closer to the sound world of Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds. An intriguing artist.

Aug 24, 2020

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