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Bach: Uncommon Bach(2008)
Transcriptions for Virtual Instruments and Modern Synthesis. This is a presentation of a conceptual work that encompasses nearly 10 years of research in music, sound and technology. Experience a new view on how music can be presented in Surround Sound, a project that takes orchestration into new dimensions of sound each individual sound having its unique location in 3-Dimensional Space.
For more about Bach: Uncommon Bach and the Bach: Uncommon Bach Blu-ray release, see Bach: Uncommon Bach Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on February 28, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Bach: Uncommon Bach Blu-ray Review
Alexander Goldberg Jero plays Bach like you have never heard it before
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, February 28, 2009
I have always enjoyed the fusion of different styles or genres of music, and the ability to adopt current musical instruments with historic music not directly written for them. The blending of electronics and classical music, or more specifically, synthesizers to classical music would be a perfect example. I was a kid when I first heard this interesting blend of technology and classical composition. It came in the form of composer and keyboardist Wendy Carlos's 1968 release "Switched on Bach," which used the Moog synthesizer as the sole instrument for recreating Bach's music. It was so wildly popular, that it sold 500,000 albums in a single day at a time when sales of that magnitude were unheard of in classical music. I went on to purchase twenty more of her albums over the years, enjoying each one more than the last. Shortly after my introduction to Ms. Carlos, I stumbled on to Isao Tomita's 1974 recording entitled "Snowflakes are Dancing," and later to "Pictures at an Exhibition," released in 1975. His concept was similar to Carlos's, except he used the sound field in a way that Carlos had not explored. He released a quad version of "The Planets" that had an "overhead" channel that required a passive decoder and a ceiling mounted speaker. It was both sonically beautiful, and spatially engaging with different musical parts moving all over the sound field at any given time. I imagine my parents thought I was nuts listening to this kind of music and wiring my bedroom for that height channel. These two musical pioneers have been the only artists that I know of that turn out albums, CDs, and in the case of Tomita, videos featuring classical works performed on synthesizers. This new project Uncommon Bach changes all that; improving on this musical concept in ways that are unique, new, fresh and will change the way you think of Bach's music.
The music is presented in the following order:
1. BWV 208 Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd
2. BWV 1 Wie schφn leuchtet der Morgenstern No.3
3. BWV 5 Wo soll ich fliehen hin No.1 Chorus
4. BWV 10 Meine Seel erhebt den Herren No.1 Chorus
5. BWV 33 Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ No.1 Chorus
6. BWV 225 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied No.1
7. BWV 525 Trio sonata in E-flat No.1 Allegro
8. BWV 530 Trio sonata No. 6 No.1 Vivace
9. BWV 592 Concerto in G No.1 Allegro Assai
10. BWV 812 French Suite No. 1 in D
11. BWV 831 French Overture No.3 Gavotte
Award winning composer and keyboardist Alexander Goldberg Jero's expands the musical compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach in directions never before imagined. He explores Bach's work by using the 5.1 sound field palette as an extension of his keyboard performance. While others used a joystick to pan and move voices around, Jero separates these voices and assigns them to each of the 5.1 channels. This creates a direct but spacious sound that hits your ears from all directions with different polyphonic musical parts. Mixing classical music with the synthesizer is not unique; Alexander Jero is using more advanced keyboard technology and a high-resolution multi channel audio format that was not available to the earlier pioneers of this kind of exploration. The effect raises the sonic bar much higher than could be achieved previously; without all the technical difficulties of the playback devices of that time.
Bach: Uncommon Bach Blu-ray, Video Quality
Static images accompany the music. They are presented in a 1:78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i, encoded with the MPEG-2 codec. The images feature various flowers and plants up close and personal. It was like walking through a botanical garden while listening to great music. I chose to turn off my display halfway through the presentation, which allowed me to focus solely on the music.
Bach: Uncommon Bach Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Uncommon Bach features a stunning 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track encoded at 24/96khz, creating a true sonic treat. Listening to this spatial feast is like being in the center of a table as five people have a conversation. The level of audio detail is astounding. The samples used have a very pure and often realistic quality that would fool you into thinking that it was the real acoustical instrument, and not a sample; you can even hear the air rushing over the mouthpiece on the flute sample! Being a direct recording, there are no priority issues. Every individual voice is clearly heard even when multiple voices emerge from different channels. The sound field can be spacious at one moment, and intimate the next. Bass can be powerful at times, giving your sub a good workout. The entire 360-degree sound field is filled with polyphonic voices, some emerging slightly in front of my speaker cabinets, others seemingly pushing all the walls backwards five feet at every point. Phantom imaging between channels is palpable, and easily discerned. This recording is first rate and I hope that this is the first of many from virtuoso Alexander Jero.
Bach: Uncommon Bach Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There are no extras included with this release.
Bach: Uncommon Bach Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I sincerely hope we hear more from Alexander Jero on the Blu-ray format. He is a truly talented and artistically creative visionary whose technically astounding playing on Uncommon Bach adds new levels of depth to Bach's revered catalog. Using three- dimensional space as an extension of the performance is unique and, frankly, a work of genius. I hope he takes this concept to the next level in his next release, as this is truly unexplored territory in the successful marriage of electronic keyboards and classical music. I highly recommend lovers of Bach's music purchase this release. You get outstanding audio quality, a first rate performance, and a unique and colorful use of polyphonic timbre as musical communication in acoustical space. What a creative concept for an equally outstanding Blu-ray disc. One thing is for certain; I'll be first in line at the check-out counter no matter what Alexander Jero releases next.
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