Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge - Savall
Alia Vox AVSA9818 (2 discs)
Classical - Chamber
Bach: The Art of Fugue
Jordi Savall (conductor)
Two-and-a-half centuries after its creation, The Art of Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is a work which continues to pose many answered questions. For too long misconstrued and considered as a work of pure theory, it is at long last universally recognised as one of the highest peaks of musical achievement. Despite this recognition, however, not all the controversial issues concerning the work, such as its date of composition and the composer's real intention, have been solved. Similarly, certain problems relating to the interpretation of the work remain unanswered; these include the choice of instrumentation, the contrapuntal order, the problems of the unfinished fugue, matters relating to articulation, tempo, dynamics and ornamentation. Concerning instrumentation, two major options may be considered: the use either of one or two keyboard instruments or of a period ensemble capable of respecting the original tone of the work. Jordi Savall has chosen to reveal this magnificent work through the sound of a viola ensemble, the ensemble for which the largest repertoire of 16th and 17th century contrapuntal music was composed. Such an ensemble allows a faithful interpretation of the original score as well as optimum sound realisation, the clear and transparent articulation of the instruments enabling each of the voices to be discerned with equal clarity, without obscuring any of the others. In some fugues, a four-part period wind ensemble has been added.
The programme is structured like a double-sided mirror, reflecting not only the progression and coherence of the various pieces, but also their diversity. The instrumentation of each piece is determined on the one hand by formal criteria (optimum development of counterpoint) and on the other hand by the characteristics and technical possibilities of the instruments themselves. This reinforces the individual character of each fugue but also allows a greater variety of colour and dynamic intensity, thus highlighting the great emotional charge of The Art of Fugue. Unanimously acclaimed by the critics when it first appeared in 1986 (... Télérama), the version presented on this CD, remastered from the original analogue recording, is an updating of one of Jordi Savall's many discographic tours de force.
Remastered in June, 2001, by Nicolas Bartholomée, from the original analogue recordings.