The ÜberBach album is a collection of compositions by the Munich-based composer Arash Safaian on themes by Johann Sebastian Bach. Safaian starts off with various pieces by Bach – chorales, orchestral works, organ and clavier music – and works with them to create five concertos for piano, vibraphone and chamber orchestra. These works are new compositions after Bach.
Arash Safaian’s musical partner is the internationally acclaimed pianist Sebastian Knauer:
“When I heard the first example of ÜberBach, I was enthusiastic about the project at once. The virtuosity of the piano part, the melodiousness of the compositions and the closely woven sound made a deep impression on me. I imagined I was listening to Bach and yet it sounded too modern for the original.”
Sebastian Knauer called his long-time musical partner, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, the very next day. He organized the recording and further developed the project with Safaian. For the shimmering crystalline sound, the duo recruited the Luxembourg-born multi-percussionist Pascal Schumacher. He plays the vibraphone, which blends with the piano. There is also a synthesizer to enrich the sound of the basso continuo – for which Bach used the organ.
The project centres on the idea of creating a form of music in which one hears Bach without Bach being heard. Arash Safaian develops the music ideas already contained in the compositions of Bach and interprets them anew:
“For me, Bach’s works are music in its purest form. They require no deconstruction, no historical classification. What I always think is that I am hearing the grammar of music. That is why I have decided to compose music about Bach’s music. That makes it like a view into a landscape that your own eye interprets in a certain way.”