- Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of the Fugue), for keyboard (or other instruments), BWV 1080
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Bach: Art of Fugue based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
The CD cover is understated, as is the title, for a must-have recording of the Art of Fugue by the master J.S. Bach. The casual listener could be overwhelmed by this epitome of musical form, but the earnest student must keep this recording as a definitive performance. Joan Lippincott, esteemed and experienced, brings these fugues to life once more during a three-day session in 2010 on the much-acclaimed Craighead-Saunders organ in Christ Church, Rochester NY, Eastman School of Music. That the mind of man can write this music still astounds, and invites the learner to appreciate it. The booklet describes these works composed by Bach during the final decade of his life. The fugues and variations were composed for teaching, illustration, sharpening understanding and perception, as are many works by the giant of Baroque—yes, of all—music. The booklet “walks” the listener through the composition and increasingly elaborate structure of these pieces. Lack of track labeling for computer playing is careless and inconvenient. Fascinating illustrations entice further; the cover is cleverly arranged with disks on the outer flaps. The student can only assume that the drawings are illustrations from the Bach die Kunst der Fuge 1742 workbook. Pictures and brief description of the magnificent Craighead-Saunders organ are welcome but woefully insufficient tribute to this instrument. Comments regarding Ms. Lippincott neglect the enduring excellence of her credentials, virtuosity, and stellar level of performance. The booklet should be twice as long with much more background on the performer, instrument, and composer. The listener is left to trudge off into cyberspace for more information on all these topics. Finding another organ recording of the Art of the Fugue is another exploratory exercise. Numerous recordings on varied instruments have been made throughout the years, the musical world ever pursuing the genius of Bach. But only one other organ recording, from some time ago, surfaced after some inquiry. How very fortunate are listeners nowadays to have this new excellent presentation by a thoroughbred organist on one of the world’s finest instruments. Not only students will find this CD a necessity for studying composition and/or performance. The fugues themselves provide elegant listening experience for those seeking excellence in sound. Master classes can be built around these; but they may be enjoyed in concert as well. They can provide interesting examples, and elucidate the beautiful registrations and texture of exquisite stops. Sections such as Contrapunctus 6 with its energetic statement, 7 with the contemplative introspection manifest by the ethereal flutes, and 8 with its statement of faith and joy shown by the principals and trumpets, can be performed in recital. On CD2, Contrapunctus 13 dances the perky gigue through composition and registration. The Canon per Augmentationem delights with its principal and gutsy pedal reed. The abrupt cut-off of the Contrapunctus 14 still surprises and strikes with grief. While Bach was never restricted to any “purist” insistence of certain instruments or setting, he was an organist; so it is fitting to have this most excellent work illustrated and performed on the organ. Joan Lippincott and the Craighead-Saunders organ open this Art to standards of twenty-first century excellence.