Author Topic: The Art of Fugue  (Read 92310 times)

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Offline aukhawk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #360 on: November 19, 2018, 08:56:12 AM »
I have a hard time finding one measly glowing recommendation of a modern piano version of AOF on any page of this thread. I'm trying out Janssen tonight. I like how he avoids dynamics but he does seem a bit dry, i.e. not doing much with articulation/rubato. However, I'm sensing there's something to be got from it too. There's something in it.

Joanna MacGregor.  Definitely not dry.

« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 08:58:03 AM by aukhawk »

Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #361 on: November 19, 2018, 01:57:38 PM »
Joanna MacGregor.  Definitely not dry.


I will check her out. I am thinking that AOF is the most difficult of Bach's keyboard music to pull off well on the piano.

Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #362 on: November 19, 2018, 02:45:56 PM »
Joanna MacGregor.  Definitely not dry.


seems like Janssen uses soft/loud in at least less obvious ways than MacGregor. Well, maybe much less. And “dry” is unfair. I have to say I’m beginning to really prefer Janssen. At the very least, he avoids the temptation to slow things and pound out the endings.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #363 on: November 19, 2018, 09:12:37 PM »
Modern piano players. More often as not they want to play it horizontally, emphasising the independence of the voices rather than the chords, but the only way they can think of to do this is to play one voice louder. And they’re all taught by their piano teachers that climaxes come at the end and you mark it by playing louder and slower.

For a different approach on modern piano, have a listen to both the recordings that Tatiana Niloaieva made, she’s more harmonically interesting maybe, and less naive.


Walter Riemer recorded it with a fortepiano.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 01:52:54 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #364 on: November 19, 2018, 09:28:57 PM »
Modern piano players. More often as not they want to play it vertically, emphasising the independence of the voices rather than the chords, but the only way they can think of to do this is to play one voice louder. And they’re all taught by their piano teachers that climaxes come at the end and you mark it by playing louder and slower.

For a different approach on modern piano, have a listen to both the recordings that Tatiana Niloaieva made, she’s more harmonically interesting maybe, and less naive.

Walter Riemer recorded it with a fortepiano.
Yes I want to go back and listen more to those. AOF seems to accentuate every performer’s bad habits. At least it feel that way.

Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #365 on: November 19, 2018, 11:45:01 PM »
Walter Riemer recorded it with a fortepiano.
this has always and still seems very stiff to me. I’m really missing it because I’ve tried and tried with Riemer.
Lepinat also sidesteps “pianism” but he’s too percussive.
I’m listening to the new Van asperen and I’m blown away by it. He creates so much suspense and drama. I almost want to say he should have released it on Halloween.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 01:20:43 AM by milk »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #366 on: November 20, 2018, 01:42:33 AM »

I’m listening to the new Van asperen and I’m blown away by it. He creates so much suspense and drama. I almost want to say he should have released it on Halloween.

Through internal tension rather than external effects - I.e, through the way the voices respond to each other, not through volume changes.

It’s really hard to make sense of Asperen’s reason for using so many ornaments - that François Couperin and D’Anglebert were influences on the music. Neither of them wrote fugues for harpsichord as far as I know. I wish he had said more in the booklet.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 01:48:13 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #367 on: November 20, 2018, 02:14:16 AM »
Through internal tension rather than external effects - I.e, through the way the voices respond to each other, not through volume changes.

It’s really hard to make sense of Asperen’s reason for using so many ornaments - that François Couperin and D’Anglebert were influences on the music. Neither of them wrote fugues for harpsichord as far as I know. I wish he had said more in the booklet.
I don't feel they take away though. Those ornaments are totally French?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #368 on: November 20, 2018, 02:38:57 AM »
I don't feel they take away though. Those ornaments are totally French?

Well what else? Especially given he's convinced that the music takes some of it's influence from French composers.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 02:44:35 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #369 on: November 20, 2018, 03:53:43 AM »
Well what else? Especially given he's convinced that the music takes some of it's influence from French composers.
Sorry, does he say that in the booklet? You mean he says it without explaining why he thinks that? That is odd. Doesn't Hill play up an Italian angle? I'm a bit lazy with reading all the info. Would it be cynical to say it gives them a justification to do something a little different? Do you like the ornamentation or do you think it sticks out?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #370 on: November 20, 2018, 05:26:14 AM »
I was totally wrong to suggest that he doesn't justify his French approach, or indeed the influence of Couperin and D'Anglebert. On the contrary, I think what he writes in the booklet deserves close attention.

Quote
Finale: Froberger — French Elements — Performance


Particular influence on Bach's concept of monothematic fugue was exercised by Johann Jacob Froberger's fugues and variation fugues (Fantasias/Ricercars, Can-zonas/Capriccios) and by the old French fuguists, with whose time-honoured playing tradition — which travelled well beyond the country's borders — Couperin's L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, with its agrements, was probably closely related. Since this wide subject would go beyond the scope of the present pages a few concise remarks must suffice.

Of these earlier fugal compositions, Jean-Henri D'Anglebert's group of five Fugues sur le mesme Sujet (1689) has already been proposed as an example for Bach's Art of Fugue (Stauffer'). One may go a step further by observing  that figuration in style luthe and hidden homophony, so typical of these French masters, can often be recognized in the Contrapuncti. Of several other French parallels to Bach's magnum opus, we will point here only to one, which has not been mentioned before: several correspondences with Bach's chorale-like main subject can be found in the Franco-Flemish Vingt-quatre Fantasies (Paris 161o) by the Bruges composer Karel Guillet (see threefold example (ill.) with (a) passages from Guillet's Fantasies I, VI, XVIII (transposed), and (b) Bach's Art of Fugue subject: rectus, inversus, and rectus as a tonal comes).

[Example omitted]

As regards the notation of ornamentation in polyphonic writing, in the Baroque era there was a tradition of leaving fugues without ornaments in the representative, didactic fullscore format of an 'Art Volume' ('Kunstbuch'). Subsequently, in practical two-stave keyboard notation, the required agrements — that rich palette of French orna-mentation also assimilated by Bach, including arpege, coule, detache, coulade — would be indicated, indeed in fairly consistent imitation in the other voices, as is demonstrated like a Rosetta Stone by, among others, D'Anglebert's edition (the Quatuor sur le Kyrie versus the five Fugues). The same procedure applies for that matter to articulation marks. Similarly striking in this sense is the two-fold transmission of a didactic (unornamented) Ricercar in juxtaposition to a 'practical' Fuge (richly decorated and even elaborated) from the hand of Bach's Viennese contemporary Gottlieb Muffat (Riedel).



In the first, 'representative' case, incidentally, Muffat doubled the note values: the much discussed question as to why Bach, for the engraver's copy of the 'Art Volume' of his Art of Fugue, changed several movements into such 'white' notation might thus be answered once and for all.


Elements of this dual approach can also be found Bach, for example in the Ricercari a 6 and a 3 of the Musical  Offering (in full score and keyboard score respectively, where the former has no agrements at all, and the latter dozens, including some exuberant ones, and in the Fugue itself, where the seldom ornamented four-part Contrapuncti (in full score) contrast with the lavishly err ished canons (in keyboard score). Here again, this discrepancy also applies to articulation marks.

Apropos the embellishments themselves, often only sketchily explained in the — not always undogmatic — treatises of the period, and their application in Bach's circle: not only do we find such agrements in manifold, written-out form in the Art of Fugue, but in the first edition of the three-part Contrapunctus VIII there are traces of a systematic ornamentation tradition in Bach's entourage as well, for here ornaments in the subject are imitated in all the answers, even in the bass. We are dealing here with a long inter-European tradition of both composers and players (J.J. Quantz!), who, in fugues, especially singled out the theme entries in this way (ill. p. 16 Cp. VIII).

 Finally, I would draw attention in this context to another significant Rosetta Stone which pertains particularly to the Art of Fugue. It concerns the Fughetta uber Wir glauben all an einen Gott (from Clavierubung III), in coparison with Contrapunctus VI, both "in Stylo Francese", as indicated by the composer above this last work (ill.).

This is apparently Bach's term for what was then generally cultivated as the theatrical, 'over-dotted' style for the composition and performance of overtures and dances, which for that matter we also observe, in a wider sense, in other, sometimes quite dance-like Contrapuncti and Canons. Both works contain substantial corresponding elements, and, surprisingly, even almost identical closing phrases: the harpsichord piece (in full score) is 'bare' and unornamented, while the organ piece (in keyboard score) is ornamented with many specific and sometimes even exuberant French agrements (see ill.: Wir glauben all (transposed), and Contrapunctus VI (idealised), beginning and close).

Here the question could be raised: Are there grounds to assume that the wealth of agrements printed in the (sacred) chorale fugue for the organ was not equally intended for the (secular) Contrapunctus for the harpsichord? In his personal copy of Clavierubung III, moreover, Bach later added supplementary ornamentation by hand (Stauffer2), and in so doing did not shy away from the use of two simultaneous agrements, so characteristic of the French style. On the question of Bach's 'Art of Playing the Harpsi-chord', to conclude, his Upright Instruction (Auffrichtige Anleitung) in the Inventions and Sinfonias specifies no more than a "cantabile manner of playing" (cantable Art im Spielen). The impression gained from his pupils' testimonies, including that of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, that Bach taught Couperin's French manner and put it into practice himself, is confirmed by Marpurg, the Bach disciple and connoisseur par excellence, who in Paris had been schooled in the Couperin tradition, with its ever stressed jeu coule as the basis of harpsichord and organ playing. After visiting Bach personally in Leipzig, he confided in the little known first edition of his Kunst das Clavier zu spielen (Berlin 175o): "I can say no more to you in praise of Couperin, than that the learned Bachs [J.S., W.F. and C.P.E] considered him worthy of their acclaim" (Ich kann Dir zum Lobe des Couperin nicht mehr sagen, als daft die gelehrten Bachen ihn ihres Beyfalls wurdig schtitzen), in so doing referring explicitly to Couperin's manner of playing (ill. p.42). In this light it is also understandable that Bach at different times of his life expressed — and especially also to Marpurg — his great admiration for the "fine and mannerly playing" (feine and manierliche Spielart) of Louis Marchand, whose style furthermore enjoyed such excellent esteem in Germany that at the Dresden court he was offered a post in the king's service for the extraordinary salary of "more than a thousand thaler" (Obituary).

[Example omitted]


My interpretation of Bach's Art of Fugue on this recording takes into consideration the French maniere of Couperin, Marchand and Marpurg. When the latter, fervent Bach disciple, whom 'the Bachs' NB requested to write the preface to the reprint of the Art of Fugue, himself performed the many pieces by "our celebrated Bach" that he discusses in his treatise, including this very opus, he most probably did so in the above-mentioned 'Paris manner', effectively in Stylo Francese: on an assumed very lightly quilled instrument, and providing traditionally required, harmonically embedded agrements, made possible by a 'French', delicate toucher, as contemporaries also observed in Bach's own performance: "one hardly saw his fingers move..." (man hat kaum seine Finger sich bewegen sehen...).


Translation: Stephen Taylor
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 05:31:52 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #371 on: November 20, 2018, 02:46:57 PM »
I was totally wrong to suggest that he doesn't justify his French approach, or indeed the influence of Couperin and D'Anglebert. On the contrary, I think what he writes in the booklet deserves close attention.
Much of this I don't understand but I can make out that there's a very healthy case for what Van Asperen is doing. I remember Hill making a case for an Italian influence a la Frescobaldi also.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #372 on: November 20, 2018, 10:02:40 PM »
I remember Hill making a case for an Italian influence a la Frescobaldi also.

Where does he do that?
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #373 on: November 20, 2018, 11:42:48 PM »
Where does he do that?
I've been trying to find it somewhere.
Here's a quote "classicalmusic.com":
"At first sight, Hill’s seems an archival rather than a concert performance. He includes five earlier sketches; he plays throughout on the same registration of an Italian harpsichord, a choice justified with ingenious arguments in an otherwise limited booklet."
http://www.classical-music.com/review/bach-388

I'm not sure I'd understand the arguments anyway but sounds like something people would find interesting. 

Edit: and this from Gramophone:
"Both he and Behringer employ copies of a late seventeenth-century Italian instrument, on the grounds that Bach’s harpsichord writing (as distinct from that for organ) was mainly influenced by Frescobaldi."
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=42769
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 11:48:13 PM by milk »

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #374 on: November 22, 2018, 12:19:39 PM »
I was totally wrong to suggest that he doesn't justify his French approach, or indeed the influence of Couperin and D'Anglebert. On the contrary, I think what he writes in the booklet deserves close attention.

Bach
I began to listen enthusiastically to this new recording, but gradually I got more  reservations about the way in which van Asperen shapes this series of fugas and canons. First of all, it is clear that van Asperen has a completely different vision than Leonhardt. Where Leonhardt shapes his monumental vision with deep serenity is van Asperen more improvisational , often very beautiful and surprising but  also more difficult to follow in all its movements and counter movements. Where Leonhardt is quietly unfolding his vision is van Asperen  often a bit restless and lacks the deep tranquility of Leonhardt.
The more free approach is less impressive and the parts are more on their own while the Leonhardt recording reads more like a coherent book.
The recording is not particularly successful and makes it difficult to follow Van Asperen's intentions.
van Asperen is very daring and it is surely very rewarding though it is not my first choice, that is still the Leonhardt recording that also has a better recording .

Only one of the Contrapuncti (Cpt. VI) is titled "in Stylo Francese" (it is rather in French organ style than harpsichord style). Indirectly this leads me to the conclusion, that the other contrapuncti should not be played in the French manner. And a look at the score also reveals, that the style of the work (except Cpt. VI) is a mixture of Italian style (early Baroque ricercari in particular) and North German / Dutch style (Sweelinck,Scheidemann, Scheidt e.g.). And I find van Asperen's claim about a French style quite besides the point.

Van Asperen's AoF fast becomes tiring listening - given his cornucopia of French style ornaments. They are so systematically applied, that foreseeability is unavoidable, and the end result is an impression of mannerism very far removed from spontaneity - just like Lena Jacobson's live Buxtehude recording in Stade.

Nor do I find van Asperens sequence of the contrapuncti justified, as Bach himself decided the sequence of the first eleven contrapuncti. And only God knows why van Asperen plays the manuscript version of Contrapunctus II. His omittance of the unfinished Fuga a 4 may be the most musicological valid characteristic of his recording.
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #375 on: November 22, 2018, 02:04:59 PM »
Only one of the Contrapuncti (Cpt. VI) is titled "in Stylo Francese" (it is rather in French organ style than harpsichord style). Indirectly this leads me to the conclusion, that the other contrapuncti should not be played in the French manner. And a look at the score also reveals, that the style of the work (except Cpt. VI) is a mixture of Italian style (early Baroque ricercari in particular) and North German / Dutch style (Sweelinck,Scheidemann, Scheidt e.g.). And I find van Asperen's claim about a French style quite besides the point.

Van Asperen's AoF fast becomes tiring listening - given his cornucopia of French style ornaments. They are so systematically applied, that foreseeability is unavoidable, and the end result is an impression of mannerism very far removed from spontaneity - just like Lena Jacobson's live Buxtehude recording in Stade.

Nor do I find van Asperens sequence of the contrapuncti justified, as Bach himself decided the sequence of the first eleven contrapuncti. And only God knows why van Asperen plays the manuscript version of Contrapunctus II. His omittance of the unfinished Fuga a 4 may be the most musicological valid characteristic of his recording.
This would be the recording Leonhardt made in the 50s?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #376 on: November 22, 2018, 02:38:40 PM »
I've looked at Asperen's paper a bit more. It's tempting to just see him as saying that French style in AoF is a valid thing to explore because Bach was interested in French music etc, and that his recording is an experiment in applying French style, like Christopher Page's recordings were experiments in applying vocalisations.

But there's one thing he says which makes me think that his position is more doctrinaire, and that he thinks that there are intrinsic properties of the fugues which invite French treatment. It's this:

Quote
One may go a step further by observing  that figuration in style luthe and hidden homophony, so typical of these French masters, can often be recognized in the Contrapuncti.

The idea of "hidden homophony" comes from Leonhardt. It's a big idea in his book and I don't understand it. He argues that it's a major element of Bach's keyboard style, something that distinguishes his keyboard music from his ensemble music. As far as I can see, he doesn't draw a connection to French music.  If anyone wants I'll upload the relevant parts, in French.

   He thinks that the music has the arpeggiated texture of Style brisé-- I can see he plays it rather like that but the claim here is that this is how it demands to be played.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2018, 11:38:11 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #377 on: November 22, 2018, 05:01:13 PM »
I’m listening to Van Asperen on headphones this morning and I also had time to listen to 3 tracks from Leonhardt’s 50s recording. I don’t find Leonhardt’s instrument to be very pleasing so I’d also like to know which recording’s most take on Leonhardt’s approach (Hill, Rieger Vartolo, etc.). The more I listen to this as the years go by, hopefully, the more I am able to identify the approach and good points of each artist. In fact, it’d be interesting to see what tagline people are willing to give their top 5 favorite recordings.
I do see the point that’s been made about Leonhardt, i.e. that he’s more pacific and that it fits together.
However, I find Van Asperen thoroughly enjoyable, ecstatic, dramatic - and I’m not, never, bored by what’s going on. I get used to his ornamentation; maybe it’s something like what it would have sounded like if Louis Marchand had gotten ahold of this music. But, I don’t find it to be so extreme anyway. I think it’s a great piece of art - Van Asperen’s recording. I’m looking forward to relistening to some of the other great ones like Hill and Vartolo soon. But I was very stimulated by Van Asperen. Though I don’t understand the musicology like others here, I highly recommend Van Asperen - though not as one’s only recording of course.

Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #378 on: November 22, 2018, 10:36:51 PM »
Are Vartolo and Rubsam the first keyboardists to apply this broken style of playing? And the only ones employing it?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #379 on: November 23, 2018, 05:30:28 AM »
Are Vartolo and Rubsam the first keyboardists to apply this broken style of playing? And the only ones employing it?

 Rübsam denies a connection with French music, he cites Italian madrigals as the source of inspiration.  I need to think more about what Vartolo does before I comment, but style luthé doesn’t sound quite right to me for him. Vartolo is style Vartolé 😀I like his AoF very much.

And Asperen is style aspirin for Poul and Jan! Not for me though!
« Last Edit: November 23, 2018, 05:33:29 AM by Mandryka »
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