OCTAT01_PARTITA_LP_3000px (1).jpg


octatonic volume 1

Johann Sebastian Bach - Partita no.2 in D minor

allemande / corrente / sarabande / giga / ciaccona

The first ever release of Jonny Greenwood’s contemporary/classical record label, Octatonic Records, is a recording of Daniel Pioro playing Bach’s Partita no.2 in D minor. Produced by Greenwood, this record is symbolic of their shared love of Bach’s music and of each others creativity.

I open the score each time as if for the first time.
Bach’s writing is so clean and present on the page. So clear.
He presents me with 5 distinct movements. 5 paths.
An allemande, a courante, a sarabande, a gigue, a chaconne.
It feels as if he’s just finished writing it for me.
No one has ever played it before. It is music that exists just for this moment.

When I was a child I found the allemande (1) boring. I also found the sarabande (3) boring. Perhaps because they are hard to play or perhaps because you have to live the lives of others and find your own meaning before you can find their meaning, and boredom was my one protection in that moment.
I don’t know.
I am no longer a child and this Partita makes me question everything I thought I thought. It makes me question everything I knew I knew.
There is no certainty anymore.

Two of these movements would feel silly written by anyone else. A courante (2) and a gigue (4). Waif-like frivolities that, somehow as I play them slowly, as I find my way through their patterns, feel like he’s inviting me to be more serious. To look at the notes again after I’ve played them and hear them differently.
To do something more interesting with them. Why is it that everything I’ve ever read and loved can be referenced in the notes and phrase shapes Bach has created here?

The chaconne (5) never frightened me. Maybe in the same way that it’s easy to be frightened of some earthly danger, it is also easy to be unafraid when confronted by God. Like, the moment the heavens are involved, awe takes over. I don’t know, but I feel as though I’m close to knowing.
I think the chaconne is a musical thought process. Some massively condensed stream of consciousness, or a life well lived in the space of some minutes.

I once read a story about a man who went for a long walk into the hills and, after a time, fell asleep under a tree. A tree that belonged to the fairy kingdom. When he woke after a short but restful sleep he walked home, only to realise that everything had changed. No one knew him, and he in turn knew no one.
Time had passed him by, and in his sleep he had experienced something he could never share, something that belonged elsewhere.

And this is how it feels for me to live this piece of music.
4 earthly movements followed by a 5th movement that exposes you to the Sound Divine. Lights and shapes you can taste, music that you can feel under your fingertips and on your eyelashes, behind your eyes and in your heart. You are never the same after having heard it and, after playing it, something in me is forever changed.

Maybe Clarice Lispector says it best in Água Viva.

What I’m writing to you is not for reading — it’s for being.

—Daniel Pioro

Released digitally on Octatonic Records on September 24, 2019

Limited edition vinyl available from October 21, 2019

Buy digital / Buy vinyl / Spotify / Apple Music


album design by Ian Patrick