Written by Richard J Milner
Monday, 15 July 2002 00:00
- Sydney Consort Day
- 24th National Easter Viol School
- CD Review: J. S. Bach, The Art of Fugue
- Gamba Domestica
- Chelys Australis
- The Score
- For Sale
- AVdGS Members' Shop
- State Report
- Highlights of the Schola Cantorum concerts
- Gambello 19-21 July
- The Cost of an Original
J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV1080
Mozart-Bach: Fugues K405; Mozart: Fugue K401 Phantasm. Simax PSC1135. Recorded 1997
Bach and Mozart for Viol Consort!
The Art of Fugue represents Johann Sebastian Bach's last musical gift to the world, standing as a thorough investigation of art through fugal style and technique. Bach had become musically "old-fashioned" within his lifetime, and, indeed, the year of his death is used to mark the end of the Baroque era. The Art of Fugue can be said to comprehensively sum up the art form on which much of Bach's life's work had been based.
The most vexing problem of course is whether or not Bach intended The Art of Fugue to be played at all. He does not once in the entire work indicate a tempo or a dynamic marking. Nor does he indicate which instrument or instruments should play the work. In fact he has written in "open score" with each of the voices on a separate staff, which is anything but helpful to the keyboard player but very helpful for string players.
The field is open to the arranger, and arrangers have eagerly taken up the challenge. There are multiple versions for orchestra, for string quartet, for two pianos, for organ, for brass quintet and for piano solo. And now for viol consort.
There is considerable evidence of Bach's penchant for arranging and re-arranging his own music as well as arranging other composers works such as five of Vivaldi's violin concerti for the organ. In this same tradition is Mozart's arranging six of the nine four voice fugues from Book II of Das Wohltemperiertes Klavier for string quartet, of which the five played on this CD transfer gratefully to viols.
The playing of Phantasm, which comprises Laurence Dreyfus & Wendy Gillespie - treble viols, Jonathan Manson - tenor viol & Markku Luolajan-Mikkola - bass viol, is fluid and sinuous bringing out the fugal voice lines so that the listener is swept along in the evolvement of each fugue to its denouement.
The accompanying booklet is well researched and written in an easy informative style, and I like the cover picture by Avigdor Arikha "Four Jugs" which might suggest old wine into new vessels. Definitely recommended and enjoyed.
Last Updated on Saturday, 29 August 2009 22:45