Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wanda Landowska: J.S. Bach's ''Chromatic Fantasia'

I return again to Wanda Landowska and the harpsichord, this time playing J.S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy, BWV 903, a bold and extravagant work for its time. This was recorded at St. Leu-la-Forêt, France, on July 10, 1935, where Landowska resided and had a music school, École de Musique Ancienne, devoted to old music.

J.S. Bach's original manuscript has been lost (called the autograph), so scholars can't place the date of Bach's composition with certainty, but it was no later than 1723, in Weimar, Germany. As for Landowska, her playing of the piece is short of mesmerizing and otherworldly. (A brief bio of her can be found here; and a more comprehensive one, here.)


  1. It is amazing that Bach composed such an innovative piece so early in the 18th century. It is even more amazing that Landowska plays it with such sensitivity and variety of color on the harpsichord--an instrument on which one can't play a crescendo.

  2. Dear Prof Jochnowitz:

    Yes, so much so that some scholars can't believe that Bach was the composer.


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