Listeners to this set will immediately be impressed by the clarity of texture which Goebel unfailingly draws for his ensemble (two violins, two violas, cello and two harpsichords in varying combinations). I was surprised by the fact that they did not double-dot the stretto fugue which Bach designated ''In Stylo Francese''. I have always imagined that it was his requirement of a sharply dotted rhythm which prompted him to provide the sub-title; but, generally I found Goebel's approach a very thoughtful and convincing one. The readings of the three-part mirror fugue, both ''Rectus'' and ''inversus'' (Contrapunctus 13), are absolutely splendid as indeed are those of Bach's own arrangement of it for two harpsichord with its striking rhythmicRead more contrasts. But although this is playing which is likely to make considerable appeal to the general listener, a presentation of The Art of Fugue does seem to me to pose problems unless you have access to the score. Without it there is a danger of finding the work merely didactic for the most part; indeed, that was how I was once taught to regard it. There is, as I have implied, an immediate and haunting beauty contained, above all, perhaps, in the dance-like mirror fugues, but the full ingenuity of Bach's scheme exerts its full power only when confronted by the music. I strongly recommend this painstakingly prepared version both to newcomers to the work and to those who are already familiar with it. For me it will go hand-in-hand with keyboard performances as a contrasting means of opening up a world of almost infinite musical riches achieved with breathtaking ingenuity. Perhaps I was a little sorry that Goebel decided to round off the unfinished quadruple fugue with a perfect D major cadence; of course that's a sensible thing to do, yet I find the very inconclusiveness of that tailing off an affecting moment. Sensibly he omits the organ chorale, Wenn wir in hochsten Noten sein (BWV668a) which has no true place in Bach's great scheme, having been added as a compensatory gesture for the unfinished fugue in the edition of 1751.
Fine recorded sound and good presentation contribute towards an outstanding issue. I doubt if there will be many new recordings of The Art of Fugue...and I cannot easily imagine this one being bettered... A fine achievement all round.
– Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone [6/1985]
A warm welcome back to the catalog...for Reinhard Goebel's insightful, scrupulously well-played account of Bach's Musical Offering. This was among Goebel's first recordings (1979) to attract global enthusiasm from the critics, at a time when the use of period instruments in Bach was by no means so well established nor so unquestioningly accepted as is the case today... The great strength in Goebel's performance is that he allows you to hear every strand of the music through very careful balancing of instrumental forces. This is where Goebel scores highest over most of his rivals, though I'd also recommend the Harmonia Mundi version from the Kuijkens as a fine alternative, though its recorded sound lacks the clarity and focus of the DG Archiv masters. Take the Canon for two unison violins and continuo (track 3), where you can clearly follow the interplay between Charles Medlam's gamba and the harpsichord realizations of Henk Bouman, even in the succeeding sections in contrary motion (track 4) and augmentation (track 5). A favorite track of mine is the perpetual canon (track 8) for flute, violin, and bass gamba. And how wonderfully pointed and alert is Goebel's solo playing here; again, the truly democratic character of the instrumental dialogue allows you to follow the contrapuntal and polyphonic mastery of Bach's writing with complete ease.
– Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com, reviewing Musical Offering reissued as Eloquence 469680 Read less
Works on This Recording
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080by Johann Sebastian Bach Conductor:
Musica Antiqua Cologne
Period: Baroque Written: circa 1745-1750; Leipzig, Germany
Musikalisches Opfer, BWV 1079by Johann Sebastian Bach Conductor:
Musica Antiqua Cologne
Period: Baroque Written: 1747; Leipzig, Germany