Searching YouTube for a performance of one of my favorite pieces of music — and something to offer my readers while I try to finish a big feature about schizophrenia that’s been keeping me — I came across this mashup of Bach and an airport rain delay, and it took me only a few seconds to realize I liked this unlikely combination. It fits the mashedup, contrapuntal, almost discordant feel of this luscious adagio. The piece features a violin playing nothing but double stops — that is, two strings at a time, all the time, requiring great, fluid dexterity from the left hand to keep changing the double stop, and a fine touch, firm but supple, with the bow hand — laid over a spidery, mesmerizing line laid down by the keyboard. Easily one of the most beautiful and haunting pieces of music ever written, unique in the literature and very different from the rest of the violin-and-harpsichord sonatas that this adagio is taken from.
My one disappointment here is that the keyboard is a piano. It’s lovely, but the crucial spidery feel is lost. For the pure music, I can recommend this very affordable Naxos version, with Lucy Dael and Bob van Asperen.
Despite my reservations about the piano, I must say the version by Jaime Laredo and Glenn Gould, below, is rather stunning — and being Gould, quite different. Note how Laredo (possibly the world’s most overlooked great violinist) plays the first few bars of the double stops almost separately as two notes, before going to the full chordal treatment.
In any case, I like this mashup. That may be partly because I find some good sound-isolating earplugs and Bach a good way to endure airports — an experience echoed here. Just don’t get so entranced you miss your plane.
The Laredo/Gould version: