Another video that goes up to 11
The Sublime-a-Tron wanted to ding the Australian guitarist for not sounding mechanical enough — until he figured out that Bach’s music only looks mechanical. Over the years, a million violinists have missed the distinction, lifting the horsehair to this fugue’s defining motif of four repeated notes and sawing it into dust. But Stephanie Jones and her guitar bring the fugue back from the dead. In each of many iterations, the four-note motif expands like a living, breathing creature, introducing a melodic line (the “subject,” in fugue lingo) to weave in with the one that preceded it. And every passage benefits from Ms. Jones’s command of color and form: her variety of attacks, from delicate to athletic; her gradations of bright and dark; and her attention to the whole arc of the piece — building toward a climax, pulling back for the denouement, and keeping up a steady supply of oxygenated blood. It doesn’t hurt that the guitar can do things the violin can’t. Its resonance keeps both harmony and counterpoint ringing, and so connects the melodic dots that otherwise die out immediately. Plenty of guitarists have taken up the same violin work, but Stephanie Jones gives it a new sound and a new look. This is Bach played with cunning and passion, accessorized with a platinum side shave and a jaunty scarf.