Flutist Kersten McCall puts his own spin on – indeed – Bach on the CD “B.ACH,” released Saturday by TRPTK.
German-born Kersten McCall grew up as the son of composer Brent McCall in Donaueschingen, where the annual MusikTage takes place. In this musical milieu, he started playing the flute at age nine. He studied with Felix Renggli at the Schaffhausen Konservatorium in Basel and with Renate Greiss and Aurèle Nicolet at the Karlsruhe Hochschule für Musik. As a soloist, he has played frequently in Germany and has been a guest of various international ensembles and orchestras. Since 2005 he has been a solo flutist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. With his own orchestra, he has performed works by Mozart, Ligeti and Nono. As a chamber musician, McCall enjoys worldwide fame: in 1995 he was a founding member of the ensemble est!est!!est!! and since 2000 he has been part of the Linos Ensemble.
Now McCall, who was called “a master” by Bernard Haitink, presents his debut for the groundbreaking TRPTK label, known for its state of the art recordings and adventurous productions. Bold arrangements of music by Johann Sebastian Bach are at the heart of his album: a starting point that sets the stage for unusual approaches to familiar pieces. McCall arranges the famous “Partita in A Minor, BWV 1013” and provides his own arrangement of the sonatas BWV 1033, BWV 1005 and BWV 1032. Surprising and tantalizing interludes heighten the tension.
Violating a sanctuary?
“I want to seduce the listener,” says the flutist. “Making arrangements of well-known pieces is something I have been doing for a long time. It can give a new and unexpected dimension to familiar music. Moreover, in Bach’s time, arranging music was perfectly normal. I can imagine that some will experience my interventions as violating a sanctuary, but on the other hand, it suddenly makes an old composer particularly topical.”
“It would be nice if my album provoked some discussion,” McCall notes in conclusion. “I really tried to make arrangements in the spirit of Bach. We have to realize that we are not the same people as his audience in the Baroque period. With us, everything moves faster and we’re doing a lot more things at once. The authentic performance practice of today will also sound different from the great master’s time. You can never break Bach’s music and I can imagine that he is also happy with the way I handle his music. I fervently hope that listeners will enjoy my album!”