Deceptive Cadence

Anderson & Roe's Personalized Bach

Music lexicographer Theodore Baker, in his biographical dictionary of musicians, labeled J.S. Bach as the "supreme arbiter and lawgiver of music." And while Bach may have blanched had he read such a description, there is absolute power to much of his music.

From the exuberance of a Brandenburg Concerto, the rigor of a prelude and fugue or the heart-wrenching pathos of his Passion settings, there's an architectural sturdiness to Bach that can accommodate almost any interpretation.

That is something the piano duo Anderson & Roe understand intuitively in their new album The Art of Bach, which includes their own arrangements for two pianos of selections from the St. Matthew Passion.

In Bach's original, the aria "Erbarme Dich" (Have Mercy) is for alto and a mellifluous violin that rises from the orchestra to assuage bitter tears. It's suffering swaddled in voluptuous melody. There's no way it should translate to just a pair of pianos. Yet it does. A heartbeat throbs in the low register and tears drop in high arpeggios while the drama intensifies.

Support comes from

Chalk it up to Bach's built-to-last construction and two pianists — Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe — who are keenly attuned to its greatness.

(This track was also included in a recent discussion of new classical recordings on All Things Considered.)

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.

More Stories

Deceptive Cadence
Discover Music
Dec 11, 2017

Roxxy Collie

Deceptive Cadence