Instead of the artificial distinction drawn between “classical” and “new” music, we could more accurately refer to the Western classical tradition as Before Bach and After Bach. J.S. Bach consolidated and codified the trends that came before him, demonstrating how technical structure could achieve the most abstract goals. Every composer that comes after Bach work with his context.
That is why Miller Theatre’s “Bach, Revisited” series, which pair Bach with contemporary composers, is so exciting and rewarding. Thursday night the series revisits a coupling from its inaugural season, Bach and Michael Gordon. Played by Ensemble Signal and period keyboard specialist Kristian Bezuidenhout, each composer is represented by two pieces, Bach’s Concertos for Harpsichord, BWV 1058, and Oboe and Violin, BWV 1060, and Gordon’s Dry and Hyper, music from 2013 and 2014 respectively. Not only is Gordon’s post-minimal style impossible without Bach’s structures and counterpoint, but his Hyper constantly moves toward its own beginning, even as it passes through time, like the work of his famous predecessor.
“Bach, Revisited” takes place 8 p.m. Thursday at the Miller Theatre. millertheatre.com.