Classic music performed (more or less) a capella – I have been really amazed by the German project SLIXS when I ran into their music. On 7th October 2022, they are releasing their new album Quer Bach 3 (something like “Across Bach 3”). Obviously, it is already the third time they honor the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. A good opportunity to have a listen.
SLIXS – About The Artists
The project SLIXS has already been found in the mid-1990’s. The artists comes from different parts of Germany. Until 2012, the sextet called themselves Stouxingers). The first album of the band is already dated as of 1998. In 2014, they started the first release of the Quer Bach series, The second album of that set has been released in 2018 and is the most current release of the band. The project has international reputation and worked with quite a lot of interesting national and international artists. Their current lineup is Katharina Debus, Michael Eimann, Gregorio D’Clouet Hernandez, Karsten Müller, Thomas Piontek and Konrad Zeiner. Their website states Leipzig as their home town.
SLIXS – Quer Bach 3 – Track by Track
The 16 song album lasts 50 minutes.
1. Concert for Violin and Oboe in C Minor / BWV 1060R – Part I. Allegro
I have to give in at the very beginning of this review: having a listen to the new songs by SLIXS is like an experiment to me as well. I do have a certain education in classic music, but I am not deep enough into Bach’s music to really know any of the tracks presented as well. The more. opening with the BWV (Bach Werke Verzeichnis / thematic list of Bach works) 1060 R concert for violin and oboe is like traveling like into a new world.
I like that trip. The a capella version of this work is adding a lovely ease, the version by the German singers almost feels frisky. No doubt, they make me smile in these first five and a half minutes.
2. Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, Book 1 / BWV 847 – Fugue No. 2
While the opener was rather long, the second track is less than two minutes. A bit more majestic, almost melancholic. Very nicely arranged one, which is leading to a solid listen.
3. Partita No. 1 in B-Flat Major / BWV 825 – V. Menuet Part I & II
Katharina Debus is clearly taking the vocal lead in this third song, which almost turns the minuet into an aria or operetta-style song.
4. Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Minor / BWV 1018
With almost six minutes, the fourth track is the longest track of SLIXS’ new album. This leads to a nice opportunity for all vocalists to have some focus and presence in here. Especially the change in styles of the original lead to very interesting alterations in the vocal arrangement as well.
5. Goldberg Variations / BWV 988 – Variation 24
For the next three songs, SLIXS presents three of the overall thirty Goldberg Variations. Variation 24 is a canon at octave, i.e. the following voice is either an octave above or below the original music line. Again, I feel a certain ease caused by the different vocalists and their arrangements. They nicely keep the Baroque touch of the original write, though.
6. Goldberg Variations / BWV 988 – Variation 3
The rhythm of this variation feels heavier, slower – even though the female vocal part is more present in here again, you feel the slower basis of a 12/8 beat.
7. Goldberg Variations / BWV 988 – Variation 10
The style of Variation 10 is called a fughetta. This allows the last of the Goldberg Variations presented in here a wider range of sounds. However, I feel that 3 and 24 lead to better listens.
8. Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Minor / BWV 1003 – Part III – Andante
I feel that the role of a violin is not that present in the vocal interpretation of the Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Minor. Thus, I struggle with this track a bit. It just does not spread as much magic as other songs in this album.
9. Prelude in C Minor / BWV 934
This prelude has a nice vocal melody line, which leads to a beautiful listen. Fancy a dance? I feel being slowly caught by the music is possible in here.
10. Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major / BWV 1010 – V. Bourrée I
This only 89 second recording is one of the most entertaining of the album to me. The male vocals involved create a beautiful depth, but also sounds cheeky and joyful.
11. Die Kunst der Fuge / BWV 1080 – Contrapunctus No. 1
Die Kunst der Fuge (or The Art of Fugue in English) is a set of tracks, which overall contains 14 fugues and one week of canons. SLIXS go for one of the leading songs of this set of music. The three minute listen is absolutely impressive.
12. Concert in A Major / BWV 1055 – Part I. Allegro moderato
The twelfth song is another happy sounding track, which is one of the nicest works with different vocals lines presented by the different singer. These 4:37 minutes are one of the best listens to me.
13. Concert for Organ in D Minor / BWV 596 after Vivaldi – Part I
The last four tracks of the album are dedicated to the organ concert, which is a transcript of a Vivaldi composition. These four tracks are also special as they use the organ. The instrument is rather in the background until a break at about half of the track. Even though the vocals are very harmonically working with the organ in these final notes of this track, it feels rather disturbing to me.
14. Concert for Organ in D Minor / BWV 596 after Vivaldi – Part II
The struggle with the organ presence in these songs massively increases in the second part of the BWV 596 recording. The recording more and more feels like an organ recording with vocal backgrounds. Call me a lowbrow for that – but I feel that this significantly destroys the magical touch of the album so far.
15. Concert for Organ in D Minor / BWV 596 after Vivaldi – Part III
As the character of the original write is changing and the organ is again rather taking a background role, I enjoy the third part more again. However, the recording does not merge the different vocalists of SLIXS to one fascinating sound.
16. Concert for Organ in D Minor / BWV 596 after Vivaldi – Part IV
The presence of the vocalists is better than in the second part, but overall, I leave Quer Bach 3 with a mixed feeling. Bad luck, the first twelve tracks fascinated me that much.
SLIXS – Quer Bach 3 – Spotify
A stream of Quer Bach 3 may be available the next days. The album is available on Bandcamp, though.
SLIXS – Quer Bach 3 – My View
If I skip the last four tracks mentally, I just have to say: I absolutely enjoyed the listen. The vocal performance at Quer Bach 3 is amazing and leads to an entertaining listen. I need to emphasize that I typically do not listen to classic music, so that’s definitely a huge praise to the German sextet. Unfortunately, I don’t like the finale – maybe classic lovers or fans of SLIXS may contradict to me here.
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