It's not a big anniversary year for J.S. Bach this year (though 2010 is the 300th birthday of lesser-known son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach), but I've been playing and listening to some of The Well-Tempered Clavier the past couple of weeks, and am wondering what else I might want to listen to of Bach, Sr.'s music. I've always liked Baroque music, and finally, as an adult, seem to have acquired enough patience to learn a fugue or two on the keyboard. As a teenager, I played the Inventions and some of the Preludes, but only ever started a fugue (most of which have three to five distinct parts, often playing simultaneously), and never finished it. Right now I'm working on the C Major Fugue (BWV 846) and the C Minor Prelude and Fugue (BWV 847) (might as well start at the beginning). I think I played three of Bach's violin concerti as a young violinist, and went on to work on Partita No. 3 for unaccompanied violin as a grad. student. Perhaps I've found the patience needed for the rest of the sonatas and partitas, too, but I doubt it--they are extremely challenging.
Mendelssohn was a great admirer of Bach's, and his (Mendelssohn's) Magnificat seems especially influenced by the Baroque composer's music. It would be fun to listen to both Mendelssohn's and Bach's Magnificats sequentially see what similarities there might be.
Bach wrote so very much music it's hard to pick a few favorites out of the bunch. But my favorite recording of The Well-Tempered Clavier is, hands-down, Glenn Gould's. Here is the C Minor fugue I'm currently working on (at about half the speed Gould plays it):
And every violinist knows "The Bach Double," or Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, the first movement played here as I first remember hearing it, by Isaac Stern and Itzahk Perlman:
One choral work of Bach's that I haven't sung but would love to is the secular canata nicknamed, "The Coffee Cantata," performed here by The Academy of Ancient Music under the direction of Christopher Hogwood, with soloists Emma Kirkby and David Thomas: