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Bach: The Art of Fugue / Duo Stephanie & Saar


Release Date: 06/02/2017 
Label:  New Focus   Catalog #: 181  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Stephanie & Saar
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DUO Stephanie & Saar’s third release on New Focus Recordings, The Art of Fugue, is the first ever complete piano duo recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s final enigmatic work. The duo performs the work’s different movements as either four-hand, two piano or solo piano works. Bach never specified the instrumentation of the work and this new version is a kaleidoscope of textures and colors, a probing journey that seeks answers and illumination. Dated 1748, some scholars see The Art of Fugue as an academic endeavor by an aging master paying tribute to the fugue, which was by then falling out of fashion. Others consider the work as a sort of “Da Vinci Code” of numerology, puzzles and musical coding. The mystery of Contrapunctus 14, notable Read more for both the inclusion of Bach’s name as a theme and for its unfinished state adds to the mythology and cult status that surrounds the work.Bach found fugues to be a source of endless creativity. The Art of Fugue, a collection of fourteen fugues and four canons, is an exploration of the full spectrum of contrapuntal possibilities, all derived from one monolithic theme in D minor. From a purely technical standpoint, Bach’s compositional prowess is in full display as he employs inversion, retrograde, augmentation, diminution, multiple fugue subjects, mirroring and canonic writing- all while creating an intense and emotionally gripping musical experience. Bach was a deeply devout Lutheran, and while Th Art of Fugue has no direct religious connotations, the work’s reverence for “musical math” and the severity of the techniques used are in line with Bach’s devotional output. Bach’s need to exhaust as many possibilities of permutations from one theme is in essence a quest to find meaning, an unending spiritual journey reaching towards the divine. Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Stephanie & Saar
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1745-1750; Leipzig, Germany 

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