- Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of the Fugue), for keyboard (or other instruments), BWV 1080
- Toccata and Fugue, for organ in D minor, BWV 565 (BC J37)
- Passacaglia and Fugue, for organ in C minor, BWV 582 (BC J79)
Only someone driven to madness would listen to Bach's "The Art of the Fugue" all the way through, since any sane person might buckle under the weight of this supreme contrapuntal masterpiece. In the vertiginous breadth of his lines, the awesome scope of his harmonies, and the dizzying depths of the combinations, Bach reveals an eternal and infinite world of musico-mathematical meditations. So imagine how it must have felt for Helmut Walcha, the great blind German organist, to perform "The Art of the Fugue." While that may truly be unimaginable for the sighted, it comes as close as possible to imaginable in Walcha's awe-inspiring performance of the work recorded in stereo in 1956, a performance of such unbearable intensity and such overwhelming concentration that the notion of notes on a staff, the concept of pitches and durations, and even the idea of musical space and time all dissolve in a universe of pure sound. It's truly heady stuff -- but, sane or mad, anyone who did get all the way through Walcha's "The Art of the Fugue" would be rewarded with his rip-roaring "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" recorded in monaural in 1947 and his fear-inducing "Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor" recorded in monaural in 1952. Whether hearing them after "The Art of the Fugue" helps or hurts is up to the individual. Stereo or monaural, the sound here is big, close, and clear.