Before we get into it, I would like to point out that the first song on this album is called “For Jóhann”. It’s dedicated to the great, ever missed and ever loved, Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Now, on to the show.
Víkingur Ólafsson is one of those piano players that just can’t fuck up. He’s gained the nickname “Iceland’s Glenn Gould” which is like saying he’s the second coming of angel tit-shot Tuesdays. And let’s be honest, everyone loves angel tit-shot Tuesdays. Earlier this year, he came out with one of my favourite classical records with him throwing down some mad Philip Glass. It’s basically a perfect album. I’m almost pre-teen embarrassed about how much I’ve listened to that shit. Almost. At this point, I might screaming Beatle-fan the stage if I ever got the chance to see this motherfucker live. His sensitive, pure, and clean chops keep me drinking from his well like it keeps bringing up buckets full of chilled holy water that also gets me hammered as fuck. This album should be accompanied with Víkingur doing Bach regular styles. It’s a solid interpretation. Víkingur shows so many new sides to the endlessness which seems to be Bach. These pieces, that I know so fucking well, feel brand new. It’s like finding out your mom used to run a brothel somewhere on the border of Hungary. She’s the same person that you’ve always known but now she has this new depth, mystery, and wonder. Problem is, it’s fucking Bach, that dude has been interpreted a lot by masters like … oh, you know, Glenn fucking Gould, so it’s hard to rise to the top with neighbours like that. But, when the Víkingur’s Bach works are married with the Bach Reworks? This shit opens the fuck up.
You ever wonder what Bach would sound like if he did the soundtrack for Stranger Things? This is it. I know some of y’all might get hella pissy that your renowned and precious Bach is being electrified, but hold up for a second. There have been two generations of perfect pianists that dedicated their entire lives and careers to the craft of playing the one and “true” Bach. It was the classical pianist’s version of the holy fucking grail for a long while. It’s about damn time that new pianists bring this shit into modern times while also paying honour to those that worked so hard. This is that album. Víkingur does what he’s always done. He’s meticulous went through, like a distinguished surgeon with a sharpened scalpel, to get to the beating heart of each piece. As he holds the heart in his hands, he studies it at every possible angle to study its workings, essence, and purpose. Before he plays the first fucking note the tone, subtleties, accents, and presence of the piece he’s about to play is held in his mind. These reworks? This is not some coked out DJ thinking it would be groovy to scratch some Bach. This is a dedicated employee of classical music presenting the inner workings of their brain as they play Bach. And it’s fucking beautiful.