This is an easy call. No less a figure than Donald Francis Tovey declared that from the performer's standpoint The Art of Fugue is undeniably keyboard music, but from the listener's it's best heard as a string quartet. It's difficult to disagree with this assessment, as the quartet medium offers perfect transparency of texture and (when played with polish and style, as here) ideal balance of contrapuntal lines. At the same time, it is much easier on the ear than any harpsichord, less monochrome than the piano, and it suffers from none of the distracting timbral oddities of mixed ensembles, especially those played on "period" instruments.
The performance on offer here is both respectfully austere andRead more sufficiently varied so as to sustain continuous listening for anyone so inclined. The program presents the first 11 fugues in performances of gradually increasing liveliness. Then comes an early version of the Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu, the first of the "mirror" fugues, three more canons, the second "mirror" fugue, Bach's final version of the Canon per Augmentationem, the incomplete last fugue, and finally the Chorale "Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit". Rearrangement of seating in the mirror fugues and the use of viola and tenor viola for a few low notes (so as to maintain the integrity of Bach's voice registers) reinforce the unobtrusive clarity of each of these contrapuntal gems. Intelligent, user-friendly notes and warmly present recorded sound make this an easy recommendation and an ideal way to get to know Bach's last masterpiece.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080by Johann Sebastian Bach Performer:
Philip Setzer (Violin),
Eugene Drucker (Violin),
Lawrence Dutton (Viola),
David Finckel (Cello)
Emerson String Quartet
Period: Baroque Written: circa 1745-1750; Leipzig, Germany Date of Recording: 2003 Venue: American Academy of Arts & Letters, NYC Length: 80 Minutes 8 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
workmanlike to inspiringMay 12, 2016By Michael S. (Silver City, NM)See All My Reviews"The quartet starts off in a seemingly uninspired fashion, but they do pick up as the CD progresses, with overall a very pleasing performance."Report Abuse