The Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin are to the violinist what the greatest Shakespeare plays are to the actor: the highest summit of the art form. But in Shakespeare’s case, there is plenty of support from other cast members; the violinist in this case is all alone with no support or accompaniment whatsoever. The art of these polyphonic pieces is the ability to be able to convincingly perform simultaneous melodies via double-stops in a manner that really sounds as if you are hearing independent “voices” despite their being performed by one set of hands. (Imagine a solo show where a single artist has to be different characters at the same time having conversations, and you get the idea.) It is bold for a violinist to program even one of these extraordinary pieces on a recital since the artist is left so exposed and vulnerable. To program all six of these pieces in a single recital is beyond bold, perhaps even reckless. But when the violinist is German performer Christian Tetzlaff, bets are good that this should be a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience these works live in the hands of a consummate artist. Note the special start time of 2 p.m. and that there will be an hour dinner break between the two segments of this Bach-a-thon. (Dennis Polkow)
October 11, 2pm, Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, (312)294-3000. $32-$109.
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org