This Bach fugue captures the pure musical genius of the late Jacques Loussier
7 March 2019, 13:42 | Updated: 7 March 2019, 14:40
Following the sad news that the Bach-loving jazz pianist Jacques Loussier has died, we've delved into the archive to find one of his most irresistible performances
Jacques Loussier, the jazz pianist who had a unique role in expanding the popularity of Johann Sebastian Bach over the past sixty years has died at the age of 84.
In 1959, Loussier formed a piano trio that specialised in jazz arrangements of the Baroque master's works for keyboard. The 'Play Bach' series went on to sell tens of millions of albums. In the 1980s, Loussier formed a new trio and expanded to arrangements of works by Ravel, Satie, Debussy, alongside all those Bach classics.
For countless numbers of people, his recordings would have been their first encounter with the music of the Baroque and J.S. Bach.
The trio's arrangements were often very episodic. They would begin with Bach's melodies and harmonic outlines, but then take the music through musical sections, drawing on the full spectrum of jazz and latin styles. The rhythm was always driving, the swing infectious, and the magic of Bach counterpoint was never too far away.
This performance of the Fugue in D from Book One of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier captures it all perfectly. Loussier gives Bach's fugue subject an enchanting harmonic twist, before launching into the sort of infectious swing against the Bach counterpoint that was his trademark.
And it's all filmed in a concert at Bach's own church, St Thomas's in Leipzig.
Loussier passed away on 5 March 2019. This Sunday at 7pm on Classic FM, David Mellor will present a tribute to his musical legacy and enduring popularity.