The album comprises the pianist/composer's recordings of four preludes and one fugue from J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, each followed by an After Bach piece written by Mehldau and inspired by its WTC mate. The album begins with Mehldau's own "Before Bach: Benediction" and ends with his "Prayer for Healing."
As Mehldau's label mate Timo Andres says in his After Bach liner note, "As a professional organist, much of Bach's work took the form of improvisation, and during his lifetime it was the virtuosity and complexity of these improvisations for which he was most admired … Some three centuries after the fact, Brad Mehldau takes up this tradition and applies it to a frustratingly unknowable aspect of Bach's art."
Andres continues, "There have always been elements of Mehldau's style that recall Bach, especially his densely-woven voicing—but he's not striving to imitate or play dress-up. Rather, After Bach surveys their shared ground as keyboardists, improvisers, and composers, making implicit parallels explicit."
After Bach originated in a work Mehldau first performed in 2015—commissioned by Carnegie Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Music, The National Concert Hall, and Wigmore Hall—called Three Pieces After Bach.
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