Author Topic: The Art of Fugue  (Read 114791 times)

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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #460 on: December 18, 2020, 05:56:04 PM »
Re: 'hidden homophony' I haven't read the leonhardt, but I would agree that Bach is more harmony-driven than counterpoint-driven - at least compared to renaissance composers, where the thinking was more or less contrapuntal (the shape of individual voices, then relations between different voices) resulting in rather more simple harmonies. After all, the practice of partimento (which Bach used to teach his students) first gives you a bassline which implies certain harmonies, and you 'realize' it by filling in the harmonies with contrapuntal lines - sort of like connecting dots with lines.

Anyways I like the van Asperen, the ornamentation does not distract me.

Edit: for those unfamiliar with partimento, here's an example with bwv 639 - what is ostensibly a contrapuntal trio with three independent voices can be arrived at by starting with the bass line and filling in the harmony with increasing elaboration.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIhxGSZg3o8


It is difficult to listen, and probably compose,  contrapuntal lines without harmonic implications. I wonder if it is because of natural human instinct or because we were born and raised in the post-Medieval music paradigm. Musicians in the free-jazz movement tried non-harmonic music lines. But you can "hear" chord-progressions from most of their works.
I like Asperen, but I am not crazy about his AoF.

P.s. Even if melodies don't have 3rd or 7th note at all, relative to the bass note, probably modern listners will hear a harmony and harmonic progression.


« Last Edit: December 18, 2020, 06:48:50 PM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #461 on: December 19, 2020, 04:43:49 AM »
I think part of my disaffection with the Asperen is that I don’t find that way of ornamenting the music meaningful, expressive. It just kind of leaves me a bit cold. Piling them on like Asperen does doesn’t help in any way, it just seems pointless to me. Worse than pointless, it makes the texture thicker, I become less sensitive to how the voices are interacting, which seems a move in the wrong direction. When it comes to harpsichord I want agogics! I want lashings of lovely rubato drawing my attention to phrases, giving the music a sexy curvaceous contour, I don’t want spiky little wobbly trilly shards of wire wool flying all over the shop, shrapnel. Anyway I listened to Mateo Messori play a handful of pieces from it today and this is what I felt. Messori good, Asperen less good.

The more complicated fugues seem to come off worst to me, the thing just fills up with lots of notes. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of difference between the timbres of the registers, and that makes things sound too solid, 2D - I mean not enough relief.

In the arch-ornamenter, Francois Couperin, the music is rarely as complex as one of the later pieces in AoF, if ever. Much of it is not much more than homophony! And even there it benefits from an instrument with non uniform timbres and a performer who will use them. Listening as I type to Leonhardt playing Francois Couperin on DHM - the performance is better than the music! Anyway, unlike Asperen, Leonhardt had the good sense not to let Francois Couperin influence his way of playing Bachian counterpoint.

How do you feel about Vartolo? I haven’t listened to it in a while. And how does Rubsam do on the Lautenwerk? I’d like to get a playlist of a few revelatory performances that are radically different from each other. Hill is another that must be good.
There was a performer that didn’t on fortepiano...I forgot his name. There must be something good on clavichord too.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #462 on: December 19, 2020, 06:00:28 AM »
How do you feel about Vartolo? I haven’t listened to it in a while. And how does Rubsam do on the Lautenwerk? I’d like to get a playlist of a few revelatory performances that are radically different from each other. Hill is another that must be good.
There was a performer that didn’t on fortepiano...I forgot his name. There must be something good on clavichord too.

The last time I listened to this music, apart from yesterday, it was Walter Riemer on piano. I thought it was excellent and that he probably is the foremost Bach pianist of all time.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #463 on: December 19, 2020, 06:06:05 AM »
Re: 'hidden homophony' I haven't read the leonhardt, but I would agree that Bach is more harmony-driven than counterpoint-driven - at least compared to renaissance composers, where the thinking was more or less contrapuntal (the shape of individual voices, then relations between different voices) resulting in rather more simple harmonies. After all, the practice of partimento (which Bach used to teach his students) first gives you a bassline which implies certain harmonies, and you 'realize' it by filling in the harmonies with contrapuntal lines - sort of like connecting dots with lines.

Anyways I like the van Asperen, the ornamentation does not distract me.

Edit: for those unfamiliar with partimento, here's an example with bwv 639 - what is ostensibly a contrapuntal trio with three independent voices can be arrived at by starting with the bass line and filling in the harmony with increasing elaboration.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIhxGSZg3o8

Asperen says 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.

Which suggests to me that whatever hidden homophony is, it’s found in Art of Fugue but not in, for example, the inventions and symphonias, where, as far as I remember, Asperen doesn’t adopt the French Lute style. He does a bit in the French Suites though!
« Last Edit: December 19, 2020, 06:15:52 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline hvbias

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #464 on: December 19, 2020, 06:07:45 AM »
The last time I listened to this music, apart from yesterday, it was Walter Riemer on piano. I thought it was excellent and that he probably is the foremost Bach pianist of all time.

This is a very satisfying performance as far as fortepiano/piano goes. One of the few on piano I'd listen to on a regular basis.

It made my list of best ever fortepiano recordings: https://www.talkclassical.com/65468-your-favorite-fortepiano-recordings-post1805298.html#post1805298
« Last Edit: December 19, 2020, 06:13:03 AM by hvbias »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #465 on: December 19, 2020, 06:16:59 AM »
This is a very satisfying performance as far as fortepiano/piano goes. One of the few on piano I'd listen to on a regular basis.

It made my list of best ever fortepiano recordings: https://www.talkclassical.com/65468-your-favorite-fortepiano-recordings-post1805298.html#post1805298

How about Khouri’s Chopin nocturnes or late Beethoven sonatas?
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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #466 on: December 19, 2020, 06:31:08 AM »
Essentially there are two questions. 1) if a composer, ie. Bach, intended "specific" harmonic progressions for contrapuntal lines or not, and 2) whether the harmonies modern listners hear/perceive from contrapuntal lines are identical to those intended by composers or not, if they were intended at all.

Offline hvbias

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #467 on: December 19, 2020, 06:31:54 AM »
How about Khouri’s Chopin nocturnes or late Beethoven sonatas?

I haven't heard any of them, I will see about correcting that.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #468 on: December 19, 2020, 06:35:39 AM »
I haven't heard any of them, I will see about correcting that.

Be prepared for a shock!
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #469 on: December 21, 2020, 06:54:05 AM »
Sergio Vartolo sometimes plays with extreme rubato. It's highly emotional and dramatic, and also effective.

Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #470 on: December 22, 2020, 12:27:32 AM »
Well darn it, Van Asperen wasn’t listenable tonight for me. Fickle am I and impressionable. Yes, too much constant embellishing suddenly sounds like an involuntary tick.
I do like Lepinat, Hill, Vartolo and, surprisingly, Rubsam.
I tried putting on Ziao-Mei, and found her also unlistenable because of the constant dynamic changes.
One thing I found surprising: a new live recording of Nikolayeva from ‘93. I’m not sure I love it (she also plays with volume - as most pianists do) but she was an artist and she’s interesting. There’s a journey here.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 02:57:18 AM by milk »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #471 on: December 22, 2020, 02:46:33 AM »
Well darn it, Van Asperen wasn’t listenable tonight for me. Fickle am I and impressionable. Yes, to much constant embellishing suddenly sounds like an involuntary tick.
I do like Lepinat, Hill, Vartolo and, surprisingly, Rubsam.
I tried putting on Ziao-Mei, and found her also unlistenable because of the constant dynamic changes.
One thing I found surprising: a new live recording of Nikolayeva from ‘93. I’m not sure I love it (she also plays with volume - as most pianists do) but she was an artist and she’s interesting. There’s a journey here.

Did you think that the new Nikolayeva is different in an interesting way from her other recordings of AoF? I like what she does, and when it came out I tried it in a couple of pieces, but sensed it was much the same as the others. But I didn't give it much thought.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 02:48:11 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #472 on: December 22, 2020, 03:02:51 AM »
Did you think that the new Nikolayeva is different in an interesting way from her other recordings of AoF? I like what she does, and when it came out I tried it in a couple of pieces, but sensed it was much the same as the others. But I didn't give it much thought.
I don't know the other well enough and I have to constantly reassess - or maybe I should say I have to take the journey again and see if it leads me somewhere. I was surprised by some of the articulation I heard on the live one and I don't remember her doing that sort of thing on the earlier recording.
AOF has always been a challenge for me, I have to admit. It can sound severe and it doesn't have the variety of different dances or the change in mood a prelude brings. But it constantly brings new rewards I think. I'm still interested in new ways of seeing it. 

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #473 on: December 25, 2020, 11:34:10 AM »
Sergio Vartolo sometimes plays with extreme rubato. It's highly emotional and dramatic, and also effective.

Yes this is one of the great harpsichord AoFs I think, I’d forgotten how special it is. A really good sense of how to articulate the music, sometimes lyrical and sometimes short phrases. So everything appears full of life and full of a sort of richness, a complexity,  which makes me want to hear the performance again as soon as it’s finished.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2020, 08:24:23 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Selig

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #474 on: January 13, 2021, 03:08:02 PM »
Does anyone know whether Leonhardt's notes for his 2nd AoF (DHM) have been translated into English? That is now my preferred version, but I think it's a pity we don't get to hear him play the fuga a 3 soggetti. Maybe he explains his reasoning for this?

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #475 on: January 13, 2021, 04:25:40 PM »
Does anyone know whether Leonhardt's notes for his 2nd AoF (DHM) have been translated into English? That is now my preferred version, but I think it's a pity we don't get to hear him play the fuga a 3 soggetti. Maybe he explains his reasoning for this?

Because he didn't consider the piece as something which was intended to be part of AoF. He is certainly not alone with this view. BTW in his 1952 recording he included the unfinished fugue, so he obviously changed his view at some point. Interestingly many recordings of the AoF include the unfinished fugue as a kind of appendix, and then it is up to the listener to decide, whether it is part of the work or just a "bonus" track.
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