Organ Sonata No.4, BWV 528, II: Andante [Adagio] (Transcription for Piano)

On Sundays, I often cruise around the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel. It’s a label I was reasonably familiar with when I was buying a lot of records and even CDs in the 1970s and 80s.

The channel has many superb pieces that I’ve posted about, like Rufus Wainwright’s “A Woman’s Face (Sonnet 20)” and some fantastic combinations of music and video, like “Flight from the City,” by Jóhann Jóhannsson (1969-2018, wrote the music) and Clare Langan (video artist).

Today, I found some pieces by a pianist I’d already featured, so I continued down whatever rabbit hole I had started with on the site, to find something new to me, and maybe, to you, too.

I landed upon a piano transcription of Organ Sonata No.4, movement II: Andante (Adagio) by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Bach compiled a series of six organ sonatas nearly 300 years ago in the 1720s. I love the depth, volume and complexity of organ music and will find a great piece to share with you soon.

Bohemian pianist, teacher and arranger August Stradal (1860-1930) transcribed the sonata for solo piano. Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson plays it in the video linked in today’s post. His playing is incredible to watch, though the camera is only focused on him for portions of the video. It’s a beautiful, melodic piece that seems to call out to the villagers in the film. If I were living there in that village and heard those sounds, I’d sure head there in a hurry, too! Early in the video it appears they are searching for something or going out to meet something foreign to them. The mysteriousness of the scene and the cloudy, dark maritime location reminds me slightly of the mood of the film Arrival, the science-fiction film directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve with music by Jóhann Jóhannsson (who I mentioned above). This kind of makes sense, I figure, as today’s piano piece is quite other-worldly. And worth the seeking, as the villagers listen and watch transfixed in the pianist’s room.

The sonata’s second movement, Andante (Adagio) is an excellent piece to accompany a contemplative space I’m in following the week’s events, good and not so good, and the lovely, unseasonably mild weather (17°C or 63°F this afternoon). It was so nice out today… I hesitated, but did end up cleaning up the summer porch, rolling up the rugs and putting them and the furniture stacked under tarps for the winter. Sweety and I sat in the back yard, later on, enjoying the last of the day’s light and warmth. I’m feeling gratitude for these days, in spite of some of the challenges they bring.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video, directed by Magnús Leifsson, from Deutsche Grammophon’s official YouTube channel:

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