Meet Pianist DAVID FRAY.
(Attempting to flee the 24/7 covid-19/covid/globalist worries about this-and-that that *they* want us to live, with these occasional escapes into an alternate world of breathtaking beauty created by man, and inspired by God!)
David Fray is a French pianist born in 1981. He’s known (although not exclusively) for his J. S. Bach interpretations—described by “the experts” as not always “orthodox.”
Not being a musicologist, music historian or serious piano student myself, am not sure what “orthodox” really means. In one sense, it sounds like a musical Pharisee tut-tutting at some minor rule-breaking for a higher end. I only know that I love Bach, and know when a performance touches me deep in my soul….
David Fray may have made a really big splash in the classical music world through an engaging, “behind-the-scenes” video in 2008 (posted just below) depicting his rehearsals of a Bach keyboard concerto as he directs the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen from the piano.
OFFICIAL TRAILER: CLICK→ Sing, Swing & Think: David Fray Records Johann Sebastian Bach (2008)
FREE FULL VIDEO: (video quality is a bit degraded, though)
At 1:18:32, Fray describes the Finale as akin to a “perpetual motion machine”—indeed, a very apt metaphor when you listen with more attention.
Witness the Frenchman attempting to communicate with the German musicians: he uses mostly English and a little French, hand and arm gestures, mouth shapes and sounds, and brief piano passages in trying to get his message across. It’s entertaining to watch, as the work at hand completely absorbs him like a man possessed. I think some of the Germans find him amusing, and give him due respect later on.
The fascinating video (made by film portraitist Bruno Monsaingeon, who has profiled a host of musical greats in decades past) helped garner Fray legions of fans (me among them), as well as his share of critics.
A few saw him as a would-be, or wanna-be (depending on whether you liked him or not) reincarnation of Glenn Gould. There are the uncanny parallels with the Canadian genius in the beat-up chair Fray chooses to use, his hunched-over-the-keyboard posture, and his vocalizing while playing (but not on the actual recordings). None of it bothers me.
Others took issue with his odd grimaces, too—something I usually dislike in musicians. A pianist friend wholly detests this mannerism of his. However, with Fray, his exciting interpretations are so darn irresistible, I just listen to the music—and gloss over the rest!
Some deride him for his irritation at coughing in the audience. I truly sympathize with those who cannot stop their coughs (once suffered a fit of bronchitic hacking barely tamed by throat lozenges at an opera—was surprised no one ejected me for it), but he isn’t alone in harboring a pet peeve about audience noise. At Carnegie Hall, cellist Mischa Maisky once abruptly stopped playing in mid-phrase and glared at the audience. It wasn’t a coughing fit that got to him; it was the metallic “Tack! Tack! Tack!” of heeled footsteps echoing in the hall. After what seemed like an eternity of embarrassed silence from everyone (except maybe the poor, oblivious walker), the racket stopped; after a further pause, Maisky finally resumed his playing.
Others disdain Fray for his alleged haughtiness. Odd, since he’s often seen to be smiling. This high degree of self-confidence (as I see it), coupled with his relative youth, perhaps rub some the wrong way. Thanks to the “PC” attitude infecting every sphere of life today, we now demand that our musicians (whom we first raise on a pedestal) be “just like one of us.” Such things were never given importance several decades ago, when the person’s musicianship was the only thing that mattered. As I don’t know Fray on a personal level, I can’t really put the matter to rest one way or the other. But we can’t seem to accept “eccentricity” and “odd character” as normal traits of people anymore. Would many tolerate, say, a Glenn Gould today?
Just wild speculation here, but could this also be a reflex social reaction, perhaps, to our subconscious anxiety over the disturbing trend in what “graces” our TV screens today— where once before, common courtesy, politeness and decency were the rule? (Take a look at “What’s My Line” episodes from the 1950s, for instance). Now, you can expect loathsome, arrogant behavior (not to mention barefaced lying!) by entertainer-talking heads paid obscene sums of money for such “work.” And average Joes and Janes indulging in the same in the online forums and social media platforms (—or are they all just flame-throwing “bots” intentionally spreading havoc in the ether?). To be sure, many of our current media, entertainment, and political persons no longer conduct themselves with dignity in dress or demeanor. (At least not since the rollout of daytime “trash-TV,” pioneered in the late ‘80s by the chain-smoking, obnoxious Morton “the Mouth” Downey, Jr.: his extreme rudeness and shouting matches with guests were unique then to his eponymous show.)
(The saddening social backdrop today of many more people developing neurological, cardiovascular, cognitive and behavioral problems—or even lethal outcomes!—thanks to malicious poisoning by the moneyed and powerful, “legal” drug mafia and their psychopathic co-conspirators is a different, but likely related, matter. See? I could not escape mention of this horror even if I wanted to.)
But back to Fray. I’ve yet to catch him perform live, but I’ve not found convincing evidence of true boorishness on his part. His novel insights about J.S. Bach’s music are refreshing, and his exuberance, infectious. Not to mention, there’s that captivating music he makes at the keyboard.
Hope you enjoy the videos !
David Fray can make me weep with his J. S. Bach.
As with this delicate reading of the Partita No. 6.
(From the Verbier Festival, 2009.)
Fray and friends (including his teacher, Jacques Rouvier) bring Bach to life with these sparkling performances!
Bach: Concerto for 4 pianos BWV 1065 III. Allegro
David Fray, Jacques Rouvier, Emmanuel Christien & Audrey Vigoureux, pianos
String ensemble of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
He makes me smile especially in the spirited 1st and 3rd movements of this early Mozart piano concerto, and the elegant minuet interlude.
From last summer:
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major K. 271 "Jenamy",
David Fray, piano. Cameristi della Scala, Wilson Hermanto conducting.
Live performance at Variations Musicales de Tannay, Switzerland, 22nd August 2021.
(Just noticed the use by Fray of the two nested chairs! Surely, they had a proper piano bench available—I’m guessing that Fray preferred these molded plastic-&-metal ones instead.)
FINALLY: He tackles THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS
What are “The Goldberg Variations”?
CLICK TO READ→ Bach's Enduring Enigma: An Introduction To The 'Goldberg Variations'
David Fray: on recording The Goldberg Variations by J. S. Bach:
The Goldberg Variations: ARIA: (Theme) + Variation 1
While it’s a small and charming Catholic church that he chooses to record this work in (at the town where he was born; he loves the atmosphere and acoustics of churches), I think that God is all right with it. He may even be smiling on this: a composition by one of the greatest and also most devout musicians who ever lived (J. S. Bach—find out why he always wrote the letters, “SDG,” at the end of his compositions) performed by someone sincere and respectful of the music and the venue.