Thespian Variations of the Theme of Johann Sebastian Bach
What message should we, as human beings, send into outer space, what should we be proud of? The collected works of Johann Sebastian Bach – we can be proud of them. But performed by whom? With what criteria should we choose? Fidelity to the original? Or perhaps the interpretation should be based on the artist’s instinct, on his genius?
“My music. Now they play it how they like, where they like, on whatever instruments they like. Enough. Basta!” shouts Bach, and his voice echoes off the walls of the cathedral where the choir rehearsal has just finished. Yet the performer has the same problem with Bach as the actor playing Shakespeare. You have to be deserving of the name of an heir who brings the works of a genius into the world. And if Bach himself could point to the ideal interpreter of his works in praise of God, who would this person be? Would his verdict match the honorable council’s in the 1970s, who chose to send Glenn Gould’s recordings into outer space, rejecting (though not unanimously) the previous candidate, Horowitz? Or maybe the jury’s verdict was made long before the birth of the Canadian pianist, and Bach had something to do with it?
This monodrama performed by Krzysztof Stawowy, who plays Bach and works a marionette of Glenn Gould is the Stary Theatre’s latest production. It is a fascinating play; as Mateusz Borkowski wrote, it is about “what geniuses give us, and what they leave behind. Why does humanity choose artist X, and not Y? (…) it is about the immortal legacy of thoughts and art, the hope we place in children, and above all, the need to be appreciated.”