Review: Brad Mehldau – After Bach II (2024)

May11,2024

The album comprises four preludes and one fugue from J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, as well as the Allemande from Partita for Keyboard No. 4 in D Major, interspersed with seven compositions or improvisations by Mehldau inspired by the complementary works of the Baroque master—including his Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme.

Mehldau, speaking of the “universality” of Bach’s music, says in his liner note: “The more you try to engage with him, the more your own personality becomes visible, unavoidably.

You are not playing Bach—Bach is playing you, in the sense that he lays you bare … The greatest choice you make at all times is not out of an absence, but from what is there, in its totality. Specifically, it is the constant choice you make in how to negotiate between harmony and melody.”He continues, “This is why Bach is a model for me as a jazz musician. In my improvised solos, I want to make melodic phrases that carry harmonic implication, and create harmony that moves in a melodic fashion. This is a crucial component in the storytelling.”

After Bach II follows 2018’s After Bach album, which originated in a work Mehldau first performed in 2015—commissioned by Carnegie Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Music, The National Concert Hall, and Wigmore Hall—called Three Pieces After Bach.

1. Prelude to Prelude (1:22)
2. Prelude No. 9 in E Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, BWV 854 (1:49)
3. Prelude No. 6 in D Minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 851 (1:18)
4. After Bach: Toccata (14:42)
5. Partita for Keyboard No. 4 in D Major, BWV 828: II. Allemande (8:11)
6. After Bach: Cavatina (5:17)
7. Prelude No. 20 in A Minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 865 (1:07)
8. Between Bach (6:05)
9. Fugue No. 20 in A Minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 865 (3:56)
10. Intermezzo (1:26)
11. Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme: Aria-like (3:40)
12. Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme: Variation I, Minor 5/8 a (2:12)
13. Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme: Variation II, Minor 5/8 b (1:10)
14. Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme: Variation III, Major 7/4 (2:31)
15. Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme: Variation IV, Breakbeat (1:41)
16. Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme: Variation V, Jazz (2:03)
17. Variations on Bach’s Goldberg Theme: Variation VI, Finale (1:26)
18. Prelude No. 7 in E-Flat Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 852 (3:59)
19. Postlude (2:17)

Brad Mehldau, piano

After Bach II

Related Post