Thursday, 26 June 2008

116. Johann Sebastian Bach - The Art Of Fugue (c. 1750)


Title: Der Kunst der Fugue
Performer: Davitt Moroney
Year: 1995


So Bach comes to an end, quite literally, with the Art of Fugue. Again I repeat my personal bias against harpsichord, but let's not let get that in the way of what is actually quite a great piece of music.

The work consists of a number of pieces all based on the same theme, which is repeated at the start of almost all of the pieces, and in this recording the pieces are ordered in order of complexity, so it just spirals out, and that is quite an interesting effect.

The we get to the last fugue, which just stops, this makes for the most poignant moment in the whole thing, frankly I think that interpreters which fade the track out or simply "complete" it are doing it a disservice. The track just stops because Bach, supreme baroque composer died, and that moment is something else. Moroney adds a "completed" version at the end of the recording which is frankly unnecessary. Well, we are well rid of the Harpsichord from now on, but are also unfortunately rid of Bach, I wish he could have gotten his hands on a piano.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In 2006, the Slovenian industrial rock group Laibach (part of the NSK collective) performed their interpretation of Kunst der Fuge in Leipzig, Germany, as part of the "Bach Week" celebrations, following in 2008 with a series of live performances across Europe and the issuing of an album.

Glenn Gould plays the last part of the last fugue on the piano:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Note that on a harpsichord one can play virtuosic music better than on the piano. The piano does not allow the speed, because it has hammers, which are much slower than the plucking of the strings on a harpsichord. The piano was invented to play with an orchestra. Because of the hammers it sounds louder. A piano is not needed in the Art of Fugue, to the contrary, because it needs very sophisticated polyphony.

Bach didn't die during the writing of the AoF. He probably just left the completion of the fugue as an excercise. Bach's last composition probably is the Chorale-Prelude "Vor deinen Thron tret' ich hiemit" (Before Thy Throne I Now Appear). Its was dictated at his deathbed.

Bach did indeed lay his hands on the piano, i.e. the fortepiano. When he visited Frederick the Great in Potsdam. Frederick II of Prussia asked Bach to play several Silbermann pianos he had.

If you would like to hear Bach on piano I refer to Glenn Gould, one of the best pianists of the 20th century.