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Bach: The Art of Fugue / Andrew Rangell

Release Date: 09/25/2012 
Label:  Steinway & Sons   Catalog #: 30012  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Andrew Rangell
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This brand-new recording on the Steinway & Sons label features Andrew Rangell, one of the truly distinguished Bach interpreters of the present day. The Steinway label is quickly establishing a reputation for perfectly capturing the sound of their instruments, the finest in the world, in these exceptional audiophile recordings.

"In the last decade of his life, alone with his genius, Bach joyfully and purposefully immersed himself in the culmination of a life’s work – intending to place his own indelible stamp on the vanishing art of pure counterpoint. What we hear in the work’s slow and deliberate unfolding is the miracle of a vast and moving meditation - a farewell testament for the ages." – Andrew Rangell Read more />

"[Andrew Rangell’s] free-spirited Bach is distinguished by its powerful drive and intensity and a remarkable articulation that illuminates contrapuntal intricacies with microscopic clarity...His playing captures every mood in the psychological spectrum.“ – New York Times

“He brings us precipitously close to the act of creation; the music seems to be evolving as he plays." – The Washington Post

"I can hardly get enough of listening to this recording. It hypnotizes me. It takes me to a good and comforting place. Each successive listening reveals a seemingly, heretofore unnoticed beauty and profound polyphonic mystery. I realize how excessive this sounds, but this is how Andrew Rangell’s playing of J. S. Bach affects me...The miracle of this composition...is that it is an enormously moving poetic meditation, and it is this “Poetry” I feel, which Andrew Rangell evokes and reveals to us like no other previous interpreter. "
– Micaele Sparacino, ConcertoNet.com


Andrew Rangell seems to be just the sort of person you would like to talk to over a pot of tea and some delicious cakes. His multifaceted career has included recordings of many of Bach’s works as well as DVDs for children, which apparently call on “his special talents as author, illustrator, narrator, and pianist” (CD liner notes). The notes on The Art of Fugue are written by the performer and provide a very accessible and comprehensive introduction to this daunting work. The playing has a similar effect to that of the CD booklet - Rangell manages to make the movements accessible through his playing. These contrapuntal masterpieces each have their own identity and the performer’s decisions about these identities and how to communicate to the audience is truly engaging. Contrapunctus 4 stands out; the particularly busy section, where the rhythms and voices start to become more entangled, is projected clearly as well as harbouring energy and drive.

Movement 14, the first of four two-part canons, is somewhat magical. Until this point, the fugues have been building in complexity, both technically and in the devices used in their composition. Suddenly the texture is palpably different and this moment is often what distinguishes the great players from the good. Rangell handles this moment well, it is clear that he has an over-arching concept of the whole work whilst being able to focus on the details.

The climax of the work, the unfinished triple fugue, stops the heart like nothing else can. The entry of the last subject which is based on Bach’s name (B flat A C B natural in the German notation system), is treated delicately by Rangell and how else to leave this work but in silence?

The recording of this movement which is most arresting has Glenn Gould humming along with his playing. Whilst Gould will always be the man to beat on a piano for this work, this recording is more matter of fact and communicates more plainly than Gould, where one is often left thinking that Gould understands something that no-one else ever will. Rangell’s broad experience and scholarship lead to a cohesive yet detailed performance of one of the most inspiring pieces ever written.

-- Hannah Parry-Ridout, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Andrew Rangell (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1745-1750; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/19-21/2011 
Venue:  Shalin Liu Performance Ctr, Rockport, MA 

Featured Sound Samples

The Art of Fugue: Contrapunctus 1
Contrapunctus 4
Canon alla ottava
Contrapunctus 14

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  10 Customer Reviews )
 Enjoying the Fugue August 26, 2015 By Alan B. (Bowie, MD) See All My Reviews "This CD lets me know that I have a good basic selection of fugues to always enjoy. Andrew Rangell performs these fugues masterfully and brings out the full force of the "Bach" in them." Report Abuse
 The art of playing The Art March 27, 2014 By Bob Lagaaij (Middelburg, Netherlands) See All My Reviews "The Art of the fugue of Johann Sebastian Bach is one of his most iconic works (and the final major instrumental one). These 14 fugues and 4 canons in D minor - not fully completed - conclude an unique musical life and do mean a melancholic farewell to the vanishing art of pure counterpoint. Andrew Rangell was - as he writes in his introduction - ,,moved and nourished'' in his study of these pieces and therefore tried ,,to lift them off the page'' in the ears of the listener. He succeeded 100 % in his efforts. A magnificent cd in the remarkable range Steinway & Sons, crystal-clear recorded at the charming Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport (Massachusetts). Start your day with The Art of the Fugue as a musical meditation and you will be unearthly happy & serene." Report Abuse
 Beautifully Performed November 1, 2013 By M. Bishop (Clackamas, OR) See All My Reviews "I think Andrew Rangell's performance of Bach's "The Art of Fugue," here is excellent. This is the first album that I've purchased that has been produced by Steinway & Sons, and the sound quality is good, comparable to the sound quality of recordings of other piano works produced by other major record labels. This album portrays Bach at his esoteric best in his last great musical creation, made pleasingly understandable under the tutelage of Andrew Rangell. Highly recommended." Report Abuse
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