Bach's Art of Fugue

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by Rodrigo de Sá, Jun 22, 2003.

  1. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    THE ART OF FUGUE:

    The Art of Fugue is one of most puzzling works in western music. It is a treaty on fugue writing. But there are no words: just demonstrations.

    What you have is a theme, which is shown in the first fugue. In the following fugues it will be inverted, augmented, diminished, changed and combined with other thematic materials.

    It sounds very arid. But the music isn't arid at all. The theme itself is very moving and the pieces range from the nostalgic to the tragic, from peaceful to mystic. It certainly needs to be digested. But it is well worth the effort.

    It was not written to be played at any particular instrument, although Leonhardt showed very clearly that it was composed with the harpsichord in mind. But it is such an abstract work that it can be conveyed in whatever kind of sound you like.

    THE VERSIONS

    Walcha's (organ) is superb. Perhaps you would care to repeatedly listen to the 4th, 5th and 10th fugues. And, of course, the last one, left unfinished.

    Also at the organ there is Marie Claire Alain's version. Not as good as Walcha's, but with a better sound. Cuntrapunctus IV is very disappointing. The rest is usually quite good, very human and moving, but somewhat lacking transcendence.

    There are other very beautiful renderings. One of my favourites is Karl Münchinger's (string orchestra) - Decca; tense, menacing, somber and very moving. Marriner (chamber orchestra, mixing strings and winds) is powerful and very musical. Savall's (viole di gamba, cornets and sackbuts) is sloppy but occasionally interesting (and the timbres are wonderful).

    There are a few interesting versions by string quartets. The Julliard's is too abrupt and blunt. That's more dodecaphonic Schoenberg than Bach, really. Then there is the Keller's version, rather good, but not quite in the same league as the best.

    In piano there is Koroliov. Mannered, I didn't like it.

    But there are two very major versions at the harpsichord. Leonhardt's - magestic, strong, powerfully moving and rhetorical yet controlled - and Gilbert's. This last one deserves a note. It is sublime, but perhaps a little too austere for those not too familiar with the work. And it is an earlier version of the Art of Fugue, with some differences.

    There is also Davitt Moroney. The recording is way too bright, but the playing is very high level. I listened to him a couple of years ago playing it. The recital was extremely good (without the brightness!!).

    There are many other versions. If you fancy the saxophone there is even a version by a sax ensemble! But these are the ones I prefer. May I suggest that you stay clear of the celebrated Goebel version? That's not fugues, that's the soprano line accompanied by other voices. (Also listened to him in public, rather stiff and wiry).


    4th-January-2003 17:01


    Two more versions
    I have two new versions of the Art of Fugue: Jens Christensen (organ) and Fretwork (concert of viols). I had great hopes for both of them, for different reasons.
    Christensen because I know his other Bach records and he strikes me as one of the best and most original contemporary organists. His Bach is so poetic to defy ant classification. I therefore expected his version to be very sparse, very 'Harmony of the Spheres'.

    Fretwork because I always though the Art of Fugue would suit the viols better than anything: their edginess, polyphonic transparency and beautiful and subtle tone seem to be the best possible way of rendering the work.

    CHRISTENSEN:

    The first counterpoint was exactly the kind of thing I was expecting: spiritual, mystical, unearthly music. Anyone that knows what mysticism is will listen to it repeatedly. Beautiful, magnificent, breathtakingly slow and ecstatic.

    With the second counterpoint a very different emotion makes its appearance: strong, tense, anguished. What's that?? The contrapunctus II with mixtures and trombones? Yes, and it is quite magnificent.

    As it is, all the record makes a strong case of the Art of Fugue being most powerfully emotional music. You'll get mystical parts, but also strong and terrible ones. A major experience. I never expected him to play it this way. Fantastic. One of the great versions. It was not what I expected, it is different but marvelous.

    I know these words are hopelessly out of date. But if you ever crave for mysticism and a powerful God, that's the way to go. Being a mystical atheist myself I can only love it.

    FRETWORK:

    Ah, the frail tones of the viols. Yes, they are there, even if the sound is nothing special. But the reading is so dull! Colloquial - the Art of Fugue isn't colloquial - easy and cool, with rather fast and unconcerned tempi. What a pity.

    THE TWO VERSIONS

    They couldn't be more different: Christensen is intensively mystical and anguished and Fretwork are almost dismissive of the emotional content of the work.

    This is, perhaps, the difference between an intense introvert and a cool team of modern musicians. In other words, the difference between introverted romanticism and merry go lucky post-modernism.

    And, of course, I hate emotional relativism and dont' give a damm-ism. In a word, I don't like post-modernism.


    __________________
    Regards,

    RdS
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jun 22, 2003
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  2. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    I'm well aware that this is one of the less interesting subjects for you people – it got eight visits; only the Weinachts Oratorium got less.

    But there is a major new version around. It is not particularly easy to find, but it is well worth it. I'm referring to Erich Bergel's version (BMC : Budapest Music Centre Recordings; www.bmcrecords.hu [email protected]. He is not widely known, but he was deeply admired by no less a master than Karajan. He is a Roumanian but worked in Hungary. There, during the communist regime he was imprisoned for anti-social activities; which consisted on (!!!) playing religious music – a quite understandable thing considering he was a Bach expert and an organist. He was sentenced to five years of forced labour, but was acquitted two years early. Of course an organist can't very well play his instrument after 3 years of hard manual labour. He spent the time recovering physically and psychologically studying Die Kunst der Fugue.

    His opinion is that while it may have been written with the clavier in mind it is a purely musical score. The organ would fit it perfectly, but he orchestrated the whole with the organ in mind in order to get a kind of organ tone (which is debatable) and capture the plasticity and dynamics of a big orchestra.

    He sees it as a tension between the mystical and the human – well, he might be right. He published his views (in German) of the work, and the record booklet sums it up quite impressively. If it weren't for copyright questions I'd quote it entirely here.

    This CD (recorded live but rather perfect) is the result.

    How does it fare in my opinion? Extremely well, in my opinion. Powerfully emotional, marvelously mystical, always perfectly musical.

    It all begins with the very moving first counterpoint. The theme itself is extremely beautiful and all the latent tension and emotion are very well conveyed. The counterfugues (direct and inverted main subject, with or without other countersubjects) are all, in my opinion, plain beautiful. It is a trip to the inner side of ourselves, a deep an wonderful introspective (but EXpressive) trip to our most beautiful inner resources. It is at least as moving as the Matthäuspassion – no mean feat.

    I won't comment every movement but the marvelous counterpoint VII is pure magic: the theme appears in augmented values in the bass, and then in the tenor, after that in the alto and finally, in all its glory, in the soprano. Only Walcha manages to get close to the intensity we get here.

    Let me also mention the last counterpoint – Contrapunctus XVIII. It was left unfinished. The main modern authority on Bach (Christoff Wolf) claims there is – somewhere – a piece of paper containing the end: he calls it «fragment X». Well, the last fugue of Die Kunst der Fugue is one of the most daunting of all Bach fugues. It is incredibly dense and powerful. I used to play it when I lived alone and I can guarantee that it is quite an experience. Not even Beethoven gets to these heights of torture and mysticism at the same time. Bergel completed it, as Walcha, Moroney and many others did.

    But whereas Walcha's completion is too modern, Moroney too simple and many others just banal, Bergel's is Bachian as well as emotionally powerful. Indeed, it is perhaps too powerful, inasmuch as it reminds you of the young Bach rather than the old one – the end is prepared by powerfully dissonant chords (6th and 7th) more akin to the Passacaglia that to Die Kunst der Fugue. That said, it is quite an experience.

    Bottom line. The popsters didn't probably bother to read this far and the serious music members may be slightly put off by the technical (not really) prose. So here is the bottom line.

    If you love Bach buy it !!!

    Don't be frightened by the counterpoint: all the passion, tension, and intensity of Bach's music is to be found here. It is no contrapuntal exercise: it is about God an Men, the tragedy of life and its transcendence.

    A real masterpiece.

    You can get it here:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos...25083/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_0_1/202-9901874-3876650
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2003
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 23, 2003
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  3. Rodrigo de Sá

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Dear RdS, good to hear from you again. I hope you put that review (or something like it) on Amazon for the benefit of others.

    And I wouldn't worry about only attracting a few posters or readers - given my musical tastes, if I worried about that, I wouldn't write anything ever! It's a matter of putting over something about the music you love, no matter what that music may be. You do that supremely well. Please keep on doing it.
     
    tones, Jul 23, 2003
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  4. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Tones:

    Thank you for your very encouraging and kind reply.

    [Sulking mode on] and completely off topic.

    But, you see, I really am despairing of hifi. There was a thread – I forgot which one, where it was stated that there are no criteria to judge hifi. No one challenged this opinion – perhaps because it was just that, an opinion – but I fear most people agree with it.

    Now, I think this is the general meaning of hifi – at least in England. This forum is just a good sample of what almost all hifi magazines say: sound is evaluated per se, and not with reference to the true musical sound. That is to say, SOUND is being evaluated, not music making.

    Why am I bothered by this? Because it strikes me as the utmost unmusical way to evaluate hifi. When one has the habit of live acoustic music, the only thing that really matters is that our system is credible in terms of sound. Of course one may like coloured sound, but, even in that case, the musicianship MUST match the real musical event – that is, the live experience. I therefore find this 'relativistic' view of hifi plain unmusical. For me (and I think for you, too), hifi is just a way to get to music, not an end in itself.

    All this is a very roundabout way of saying I don't really care for hifi but only for music. And that I think many members here care more for hifi and gear than for music.

    'What did you expect', you might say; 'This IS a hifi forum, not a music one'. That is true, and I agree I am the odd ball. But there is always the uneasy sensation at the back of my mind that if one likes hifi music ought to come first.

    All this, and the fact that we do not seem to be attracting a lot of new members of 'serious' music, is making me feel rather out of place.

    [Sulking mode off]

    I'll keep reading the music and some of the hifi posts. And I'll post some more music reviews. And I hope you will continue doing it, too: I just checked your post on the Messiah because I want to give a nice version to my wife. But I do feel we are preaching in the wilderness.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 24, 2003
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  5. Rodrigo de Sá

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Dear RdS, I'm with you in that I am primarily a music lover and not a hi-fi lover. And we are not completely alone - our other classical colleagues GrahamN and Titian feel the same. Indeed their devoting large amounts of money to hi-fi equipment is not for the love of the equipment, but represents their attempts to get as near as possible to what they hear in a concert hall. (Graham especialy seems to live in concert halls).

    But you're right, for some people the equipment and its performance takes precedence over the music itself. But then, it takes all sorts to make a world, and if that's their view, fine; we are not compelled to agree with it, but, like Voltaire, defend their right to hold that view.

    There's no way we're going to convince most people to like "serious" music, because most people aren't interested - the continual falling of classical music sales bears witness to this. Indeed, were it not seen as being part of "culture", along with great art and literature, and therefore seen as inherently worth preserving, it might be even less well represented. So, to most people, it becomes a sort of monument, to be preserved and reverently dusted off occasionally, a bit the way people go to church (if they go at all) only for special occasions - baptisms, weddings, funerals. Those who actually love it for its own sake, because it speaks directly to them on some intellectual and/or emotional level, will be few in number.

    The only thing we can do is discuss it and write about it and in some way try to communicate our enthusiasm for it, knowing that the seed will fall mainly on stony ground, and that classical music will forever be only peripheral to most people, a few discs in the collection for the sake of "completeness". However, if we don't do it, nobody else will. And there ARE folk out there who could be interested. And, as far as I'm concerned, if I can influence only a few to take a longer look at classical and not dismiss it out of hand as old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy music (à la Free Willy), then I'm happy. The toe in the water could lead to a deeper exploration.
     
    tones, Jul 24, 2003
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  6. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Tones. Of course I agree with you – we had this conversation before. I was complaining perhaps because I was tired, and because I do feel sometimes too much of an outsider. Especially when people begin to discuss cables, cones, truncated or otherwise and stuff like that I feel they and I live in worlds apart.

    And of course I know Graham and Titian are serious about music, as undoubtedly are some of the pop oriented folks. Of course it is a dangerous path to thread, too much money and obsession, but I understand it. And if I didn't play, I'd certainly try harder to get a better sound – just as they do (I know Graham is a viol (Bratsche) player, but he seems to me to be foremost a concert-goer).

    But what bugs me is not the fact that we don't seem to get many responses. That is natural: I don't expect people to come and discuss the Art of Fugue with me (of course, if that happened, I'd be glued to the monitor). Even some of my professional organist friends know the Art of Fugue only slightly. And most romantic lovers think I'm plain crazy with my passion for the WTC.

    What I would like is that people would show more interest. Take as an example the thread on the Christmas Oratorium. It's got 6 views; this thread had 8. Of course, people knew them from GH, but even so… By way of contrast, my thread about the Art of Fugue at Naim's Forum was accessed 246 times. That is what bugs me.

    I like this forum, I deeply sympathize with Michael's commitment, and I'd like to cooperate to the best of my abilities (and, of course, within the limits of reason and time). But I feel we are not really attracting a lot of people. Perhaps it's just a question of time, but somehow I doubt it.

    Anyway, I'll post a review of yet another Art of Fugue (Hans Fagius, organ) and may even talk about Marc Minkowski's Messiah. I just listened to it…

    Let me tell you that I don't quite agree with you about the peripheral nature of classical music in prsent day culture. After all, even with the doubts about SACD and DVD there is a lot of publishing of new recordings going on.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 26, 2003
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  7. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Hans Fagius' Art of Fugue

    HANS FAGIUS' ART OF FUGUE

    I knew Fagius before, through his rather good if slightly refrained Bach organ integral.

    This record is just an extension of his previous one. It is all very well played, in a oddly economical, sparing fashion – he accentuates the beginning of the phrases but then rushes the following, never really letting the phrase breathe. It has some similarities with Foccroulle's style of playing, but it is quite different nonetheless – more lively and less lyrical.

    He chose a new organ, based on a Cahman original. Strong, extremely precise (which is important for counterpoint), but rather grey sounding.

    This version is all about precision and flux, and nothing about strong emotions. Whereas Walcha is lyrical and powerfully emotional, Christensen mystic and powerfully tragic and Marie Claire Alain supremely human, Fagius is cerebral. His is a very good Art of Fugue, but he totally eschews from showing strong emotion. It is as if he relied completely on the power of the music. But for me, it is overdone – or, if you prefer, underdone.

    TECHNICAL INFORMATION

    The registrations are given but, although they seem correct in every case, the registration of the mirror fugues are wrong: no 12a and 12b are given the registrations of 13a and 13b, and vice-versa.

    He plays most of the fugues manualiter; oddly enough, for my taste, contrapuctus IV receives a plenum (based on a very precise Quintadena 16' with all the principals and mixtures of the Hauptwerk and Rückpositiv) and the bass part is given to the pedals, with a very strong Posausenbass chorus. In Contrapunctus VII, he gives the augmented form of the theme to the pedals (first appearance a 8 foot trompet and further a 4' schalmey) which makes for a very beautiful effect: the piece is based on the ascension, from bass to treble, of the augmented form of the theme, which stands out against principals 8'+4' in the remaining parts of the piece.

    He ascribes a registration to a fugue at the beginning and sticks with it until the final. Contrapunctus XI and XVIII suffer most in this regard. Both are registered in 16' range (which I suits my taste; part one of XVIII has the bass line registered in 32' range, by means of a resultant 12') but the various episodes don't migrate to a softer sounding – or at least not as deep sounding – registration. To my mind, even if this choice is probably historically correct and does emphasize the unity of each fugue and perhaps of the whole cycle, too much emotion is lost, in part because the plenum of this organ is somewhat grey sounding, but chiefly because one misses the powerful contrasts of the pieces.


    BOTTOMLINE

    A very good version, but perhaps not the first choice. I'd still go for Walcha's supremely expressive version and I might even prefer the very tender Marie-Claire Alain one. Perhaps one for organ buffs; certainly a version for those that think The Art of Fugue is mainly cerebral.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 26, 2003
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  8. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Wolfgang Rübsam, Art of fugue I

    The first fugue is sober, but I find it less poetical than I would like. I like long respirations, and not the regularity he shows.

    Second fugue. An odd way of articulating the theme. The fugues flows somewhat briskly, but that is in keeping with the rhythm. Again I find it a little too fast, and not enough breathing. There is a relentlessness I do not link with the AoF.

    Third fugue. Inverted theme. A very soft flute, and a more intimate climate. But again, I find his playing too mechanical. Since the flute is rather dull sounding, he is bound to use a very detached articulation in the bass, and it makes the flow somewhat springy.

    Fourth fugue, a very dramatic one. Rather fast, with flutes 8+4, played louré. The most convincing one so far, although I would not use that registration. The four note descending motif is played detached, which works very well. Also, the speed here does convey the urgency of this particular fugue. But something is wrong. The registration, not enough agogics. Again, too regular for my taste.

    Fifth fugue, all in curves. Again the rohrflöte or rohrgedeckt. The curves are well rendered, but again I feel a lack of breathing, as if he was pressed to get to the next ‘section’. For instance, he does not breathe before the 1st, very moving, stretto. He does breathe before the second. I would have chosen a stronger registration.

    Sixth fugue, a la francese. Trompet and sexquiater! But it is convincing and fully justified. Convincing and accords well with is stressed – or very German – way of playing. Plus a mixture in the end.

    Seventh fugue, per augmentationen and diminutionen. An 8’ small plenum, the pedal is Flue 16. A terse fugue, which accords very well with his style. But again, I would prefer that the important moments be given more attention. The polyphony is very clear throughout. Rather well.

    Eighth. A difficult fugue. He uses quintaton 8 and flute 4 in the manuals and pedal soft reed. In the second exposition, flute 8+4, very beautiful. But it is odd that he maintains the overall tempo. This fugue can be played rather fast (andante), but he just uses about the same tempo he used for the beginning. Last section, principal 8+4. In the whole, convincing: this a very difficult fugue to get right.

    Ninth. The three voice fugue. Flutes 8,4,2. Rather well, and fast. This is a marvelous fugue, and it is very well rendered. He manages to throw his phrases convincingly.

    Tenth. Principal 8 (a narrow scaled one; from the positive?). I would have expected a stronger registration, but perhaps he is saving it for counterpoint XI, to which this is a sort of preparation. With principal 8, I would have expected a more introvert interpretation, but he just goes on, like in the beginning. Too neutral a rendering for me.

    Eleventh: the mightiest fugue of them all. Seems Quintaten 16, principals 8,4,2, mixture and trompet 8, Subbass 16 in the pedals. Second fugue, attaca, too fast, same registration. This may be convincing. Third section, the big plenum is brought in. The repeated notes are well hammered in. The final, when the theme is brought together in straight and reversed modification, should have been a little more emphasized. The end is not up to all the tension.

    First canon. Too fast for me. I like this canon, to float in the air. He uses a ‘quinty’ registration (perhaps the nasard, I do not think the quintaten 8), but it is rather fast and over in a few moments. Rather odd.

    Second canon. Rather slow, principal 8 (Great) left hand, flutes 8+4 right hand. Registration is convincing. But the dolorous feel he is conveying ought perhaps be better with left hand soft reed and right hand principal. In the second exposition, I particularly lack the despair written into the music. I’m not saying he doesn’t play it like that, only that I prefer it differently done.

    Third. This is a marvelous canon, difficult to put together. But how can he resist using the tremulant on the upper voice? Otherwise, fine registration, again with the nasard in the right hand but with a clear 4’ flute and a foundation, the left with a principal combination. I miss the delirium of sadness, anguish and nostalgia, together with frustrated hope of this piece. Perhaps I am missing Walcha, here. But he does not get lost, as is so often the case when one tries to put too much emotion into the phrases. The cadence is somewhat trivial.

    Fourth. A very whimsical canon. It is played flowingly, which I find a good solution. Very clear flutes (8+2?) in the right hand, perhaps quintaton 8 and flute 4 in the left. Nevertheless, I miss some of the pathos.

    Mirror fugue, four voices. Beautiful registration (large principal?). These fugues play themselves out. Very beautiful. There seems to be an acceleration of the tempo towards the final. In the end, plus octave 4.

    Mirror of the precedent. A very different registration, based on flutes (8,4), and a very different mood than the previous one. Very beautiful, as this fugue lends itself very well to this lyrical and bitter-sweet interpretation. The best one so far?

    Three voiced mirror. Flute 4’. Again this plays itself out (if you have the fingers, that is – I have never listened to it live without some mistakes in certain parts). He plays it lightly, but I myself always thought these fugues benefited from a completely neutral playing. Perhaps I am wrong.

    Mirror of the precedent. Again a 4’ flute, but a different one (rohrflöte?). The mood seems to be the same, why did he change registration? This flute seems more in keeping with the piece than the previous one.

    Final triple fugue. Marvelous registration: Principal 16+8+4. This first fugue of the last one is so beautiful and poignant! How well this registration works! I have always played in the plenum, but how it works this way! Minor quibbles with the articulation. I would have, nevertheless, used a somewhat brighter registration (perhaps the quint and the superoctave). But this works very well. Second fugue. 8’ seems bourdon and octave 4’. There is mystery here, not despair. Again, it works. The first theme makes its appearance, same keyboard. Third fugue, B,A,C,H, again 16+8+4. I really miss the mixture here. But this way it works very well. The wild ending to this section, and the final combination. How could he resist the mixture? But it does work. A very beautiful final fugue indeed.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 3, 2006
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  9. Rodrigo de Sá

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Would you like me to attach this to the other keyboard music or just let it stand alone?
     
    lordsummit, May 4, 2006
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  10. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Perhaps not. Since there are many non keyboard interpretations of the AoF maybe it is better to let the thread stand alone. I'll bump it from time to time. Thank you for your concern and for asking me.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 5, 2006
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  11. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Perhaps the last post on the AoF was a little overdone. I took notes while listening for the 5th time.

    Overall impression. Some fugues are magnificent, others I find less so. There is an odd lack of breathing in some fugues and the articulation was not altogether to my liking. Also, the lack of emphasis of the end of some counterpoints (the xith, for example), was disapointing to me. Also, the 4th and 5th counterpoint were a bit dispointing (the 4th mainly). But altogether, a commendable version.

    Only, Walcha, MC Alain and Christensen loom very large (and of course Leonhardt and Gilbert).

    In afew days I'll post about Rübsam's interpretation of the big preludes and fugues, which I found much more convincing. In these, the relentless playing is softnened by breathing and the music is very convincingly presented.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 5, 2006
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  12. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear RdS

    Interesting and objective comments.

    Our tastes seem to differ, but just a little. I like Rübsams (Philips 1977) fast tempi (no indication of superficiality), his short breathing, his detached articulation and his generally light registrations. IIMO AOF ought to be played manualiter, since it isn´t a traditional organwork with independent idiomatic pedal part. And Rübsam does, what must then be done and uses the same foundation registration for manuals and pedal, in order not to make the pedal part too prominent. And his articulation and registrations are very chamber-music like, resulting in nice transparency. And I find his interpretation full of dramatic energy.

    With Walcha (Archiv) we have to accept the work as if it was a genuine organ work, but without loosing myself in details, which are well known, I tend to think, that his AOF is the most impressive Bach recording ever made by anyone, not for stylistic reasons, but because of its unique expression.

    So two very different interpretations, both outstanding and throwing light upon each other.

    Alain on the other hand I find too routinier ( read dull) in the AOF (her second recording much more so than her first), and more than I find in her other Bach recordings.

    Christensen (Kontrapunkt), very individual, (marvellous organ – the Botzen/Marcussen/Andersen organ of Vor Frelsers Kirke, Copenhagen) - in some way it reminds me in overall effect (not the details) of Rübsams second recording for Naxos, demanding even more patience from the part of the listener than his. The first CD was for a long time more than enough for me. The most introvert interpretation of the about 40 keyboard versions , I know.

    My third and fourth choice of organ versions of AOF would be
    Hakan Wikman on Finlandia and Gerd Zacher on Aeolus,
    Both play strictly manualiter, Wikman the complete work, Zacher only Cpt.s I-XI and XIV.
    Both present a stylish and personal, devoted version on interesting organs.

    Concerning harpsichord versions I think, that Leonhardts version (DHM) from a stylistical point of view relates to Rübsams first version, in the same way as Gilberts version (Archiv) relates to Walchas, and even here we have two very different versions, which throw light upon each other in a complementary way. What bothers me about these two recordings, is not the interpretations - both must be regarded as mandatory for the devoted AOF listener - , but rather the fact that both omit Cpt. XIV, and that the interest in the shorter manuscript version, Gilbert plays, largely is musicological, as compared to the final printed version, Leonhardt plays.

    Regards,
     
    pe-zulu, May 5, 2006
    #12
  13. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Mmmm... Rübsam published the registrations, and I got it all wrong. My only excuse is that I listened to it through a poor system... But I rather think I did not understand the organ: very light and little body...

    I relistened to Christensen. I was appalled: More than once I had to skip forward. He articulates every beat and the effect is powerful, yes, but, often also tiresome. Some of the changes in manuals were incomprehensible to me...
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jul 27, 2006
    #13
  14. Rodrigo de Sá

    bottleneck talks a load of rubbish

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    an alternative take on fugue in e minor.

     
    bottleneck, Nov 17, 2006
    #14
  15. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    bat, Nov 30, 2006
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  16. Rodrigo de Sá

    JANDL100

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    I have 7 versions of AoF on CD. I'll not bother going into a blow by blow account of each's merits, just give a score out of 10 for my personal rating.

    Leonhardt (harpsichord) - 9
    Goebl (orchestra) - 4
    Paulo Borciani et al (SQ) - 9
    Laurialia (pno) - 7
    Canadian Brass (brass ens) - 10
    Breuer (for 4 quartets) - 4
    Ens Cuivres Pascal Vigneron - 5
     
    JANDL100, Nov 30, 2006
    #16
  17. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    A new version of the art of fugue. Sébastien Guillot, Naxos. He plays the 1742 version, but includes the last fugue.
    This version it is a new concept. It is played as passionate, dark music. It is a masterful version. Technically it is flamboyant: the harpsichord is played so perfectly that it really includes dynamics; not only mock ones, but the effect is chiefly achieved by agogics and toucher.
    The repetitive character of the various fugues is exploited almost as a cumulative effect; when a new counter subject appears it seems to just add to the overall tension and desperation of the whole work.
    This is sombre music, a desperate rendition. For anyone that finds the Art of Fugue too abstract, this is a must. In fact, for everyone, this is a must. One of the best records I have listened in the past few years.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jan 4, 2007
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  18. Rodrigo de Sá

    sn66

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    Dear RdS,

    Your words have probably prompted me to place an order for this CD. I have been looking for a recording of the earlier version of the AoF, and was initially impressed after hearing samples of Guillot's, but did not get around to it. Am I right in construing that this recording is similar to Kenneth Gilbert's one, but with the addition of the unfinished fugue?

    I last corresponded with pe-zulu a few months ago but have not received a recent reply. Hopefully, he is well. I will send an e-mail to him when I can.

    I recently purchased Ulrik Spang Hanssen's Buxtehude but have not listened as much as I would like to the set. How would you rate him in comparison to Buxtehude specialists like Harald Vogel and Brin Bryndof? There have been quite a few new releases that I've thought about purchasing, among them Rousset's Clavierbuchlein for WF Bach and Masaaki Suzuki's Clavierubung 2. As always, your views on these recordings will be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers.
     
    sn66, Jan 5, 2007
    #18
  19. Rodrigo de Sá

    JANDL100

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    OK - I've just ordered it on your recommendation. In the event that I find it wanting, I will hold you personally accountable. What address should I send an invoice to?
    :)
     
    JANDL100, Jan 5, 2007
    #19
  20. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear SN and Jandl: Yes, it is just like the version Gilbert recorded plus the last fugue. I will try to report on Bryndorf - very good - but I do not know Hanssen's Buxtehude.

    Well I hope you like it! I have been listening to it and I can only say that it is highly convincing. I read something in a magazine that is disparaging, but it was in the context of 'Frog hating', so it means nothing, really.

    I would not put Gilbert away, though; it is also an excellent recording, if rather more objective.

    And, Jandl... her... let me know when you get it (before listening); perhaps I'll have to move...
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jan 6, 2007
    #20
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