Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble, celebrates 300 years of the Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach with an online video series, Biweekly Bach, and third concert of a series of intimate in-person performances highlighting the iconic collection.
Artistic Director and international prize-winning harpsichordist Matthew Dirst will perform eight pairs of preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 in the final concert of the series at Rienzi, the MFAH house museum for European and decorative arts, on June 4, 2022 at 6 p.m. The monumental work is rarely performed on harpsichord in its entirety, and the series of concerts reflects this intention. The featured instrument, inspired by the work of the Gräbner family in Dresden in the early eighteenth century, is visually and acoustically stunning, a perfect complement to the Baroque-era décor at Rienzi.
A very limited number of seats are still available for the in-person performance, but the preludes and fugues can continue to be enjoyed through Biweekly Bach, Ars Lyrica Houston’s latest virtual series. Every other week throughout January and February, a new episode features two prelude and fugue pairs from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. With inspired playing and enlightening commentary by Matthew Dirst, this series brings audiences closer than ever to the masterful music of J.S. Bach.
“The Well-Tempered Clavier is the only work of Johann Sebastian Bach that never went out of style,” says Dirst. “Unlike his church and chamber works, which were mostly forgotten soon after his death in 1750, it served as a kind of musical Old Testament for generations of students and enthusiasts—a role it still plays today.” The historically informed performance is particularly suited to the intimate and ornately decorated rooms of Rienzi as this music was intended to be studied and performed among friends.
“The Biweekly Bach video series is a great introduction for people who maybe don’t know all of the pieces well,” says Dirst. “This volume is an important pedagogical tool, but it’s not all that well understood. What I hope to achieve in this series is both an introduction for those who don’t know all the preludes and fugues well, and perhaps, a little further education for those who do play several of them. This video series is a way to acquaint listeners with more of the collection and on an instrument that’s ideally suited to this music and in a venue that looks like we’re in the 18th century.”
About Ars Lyrica Houston
Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music in its original context while creating connections to contemporary life. Intelligent programming features neglected gems alongside familiar masterworks, and extracts the dramatic potential, emotional resonance, and expressive power of music. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston. Ars Lyrica appears regularly at international festivals and conferences because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim.