Producer Craig Leon Releases ‘Bach to Moog’ Through Sony Classical

By Steve Nagel on Aug 20, 2015 09:27 PM EDT

Bach lives again! In Moog form. (Again!) For the tenth anniversary of Dr. Robert Moog's death, Moog Music Inc. has rebuilt the original large format modular synthesizer (or 'System 55') and has staged a limited re-release of the vintage equipment down to its vintage specifications. The system can now be purchased "new" for the first time in 30 years. Taking advantage of this opportunity, composer and producer Craig Leon (known for his diverse work with The Ramones, Blondie, Luciano Pavarotti and Joshua Bell) has worked with Sony Classical to orchestrate the works of Bach for an electronic release called Bach to Moog. Craig Leon's orchestrations combine recordings by British violinist Jennifer Pike and the Sinfonietta Cracovia to supplement the tracks laid down by the imposing 'System 55' hardware. Bach to Moog was released on May 1st, 2015.

Leon's motivation for the project stems not just from the 10th anniversary of Robert Moog's death, but from the 50th anniversary of the modular itself. To stress the importance of the anniversary, the 1964 arrival of the Moog marked what was arguably the most decisive textural shift in musical history. Love it or hate it, the Moog changed everything. After a series of involved electronic music experiments in the 50s, Dr. Moog's introduction of the large format modular synthesizer was responsible for bringing "power" to the consumer. The Moog ushered in the new genre known as electronica, brought an explosion of creativity to rock n' roll, and opened the door for a slew of uncanny film soundtracks. As a rule, an infinite number of possibilities laid ahead of anyone who had the patience to program, patch, and multi-track their concepts.

Popularized in 1968 by Wendy Carlos and her seminal work Switched-On Bach, reworking Classical music for the synthesizer became a common hobby--though, as Craig Leon explains in the video below, subsequent concepts varied in degrees of success and artistic commitment. Leon's goal with Bach to Moog was to not to emulate Switched-On Bach, but to re-imagine the approach, this time adjoined by violinist Jennifer Pike and the Sinfonietta Cracovia. Together with the modular, these acoustic performances endow Bach to Moog with a forceful, dense, and dynamic edge: a testament to the lasting versatility of the game-changing instrument.

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TagsBach, Craig Leon, Robert Moog, Modular Synthesizer

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