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Art of the Fugue

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Charles T. Downey, In Bach Consort’s ‘Art of the Fugue,’ dour sameness prevails
Washington Post, March 27, 2012

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Bach, Die Kunst der Fuge, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
If the fugue is the most complex way to structure music, Bach’s “Art of the Fugue” is the most enigmatic example of that complexity. It is the summa of the composer’s contrapuntal endeavors, but it was still something of a surprise to see the National Presbyterian Church filled to capacity to hear the Washington Bach Consort perform it Sunday afternoon. This austere work, an elaboration of every possible fugal trick in the bag, is not one of the composer’s most popular; indeed, this was the Bach Consort’s first performance of it.

Most scholars agree that Bach intended the piece for the harpsichord, but this performance, like many others, was arranged for an ensemble: four string instruments, with some movements performed ably by J. Reilly Lewis and Scott Dettra on two harpsichords. Andrew Fouts, the group’s new concertmaster, was exemplary on the highest part, playing with clean intonation and radiant tone. Two viols on the middle parts were too easily covered and sometimes rhythmically off-center (with one false start just before intermission), and the violone seemed not quite agile nor clear enough to suit the lowest part. [Continue reading]
J. S. Bach, Die Kunst der Fuge
Washington Bach Consort
National Presbyterian Church

Artful Fugue (Ionarts, August 22, 2011)

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