Grumiaux’s Cosmic Bach

NASA included a "Golden Record" on the Voyager interstellar mission.
NASA included a “Golden Record” on the Voyager interstellar mission.

When NASA launched the unmanned Voyager spacecraft in 1977, it included a Golden Record featuring a sampling of music from Earth. One of the recording’s excerpts is J.S. Bach’s Gavotte en rondeaux from Partita No. 3 in E Major, performed by legendary Franco-Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986). Regarding the record, astronomer Carl Sagan said:

[quote]The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.[/quote]

Voyager 1 continues to drift into the vast cosmic expanse. Yesterday it was 127.19 AU (1.903×1010 km) from Earth. In 40,000 years it will be within 1.6 lightyears of Gliese 445, a star in the constellation Camelopardalis, which flickers faintly in our northern sky.

Following up on last Friday’s post, The Elegant Artistry of Arthur Grumiauxlet’s listen to a few of Grumiaux’s exquisite Bach recordings.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Partita No. 3 in E Major[/typography]

We’ll start off with the Preludio and Gavotte en rondeaux from the E Major Partita. A Partita is an instrumental suite of Baroque dances. While some violinists take the Preludio at breakneck speed, Grumiaux’s noble and slightly slower interpretation allows every note to speak.

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[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Concerto in A minor[/typography]

Here is the complete Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041. Notice the sense of a heartbeat in the ostinato bass in the second movement. The final movement is a gigue:

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[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Concerto for Two Violins[/typography]

Herman Krebbers plays the second violin part in this 1978 recording with Les Solistes Romands and conductor Arpad Gerecz:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord[/typography]

Here Grumiaux joins Christianne Jaccotte for Bach’s six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord:

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