Author Topic: The Art of Fugue  (Read 112051 times)

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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #440 on: September 22, 2020, 01:22:11 AM »
Belder sounds really good to me, I think I'll get it, but I'm also looking at the Emerson SQ recording for something completely different.

I've actually accumulated a bunch of AoFs: Leonhardt/DHM, Rosen/Sony, Goebel/Musica Antiqua Köln/Archiv, and more recently Walcha/Archiv. The music withstands a wide variety of interpretations, and accordingly each of these sounds completely different from one another. That being said, I'm not sure whether I fully understand the music yet or not. I definitely never listen to the work straight through all at once.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 01:24:05 AM by vers la flamme »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #441 on: September 22, 2020, 01:31:27 AM »
I'm not sure whether I fully understand the music yet or not. I definitely never listen to the work straight through all at once.

This may be of interest

Quote from: Pieter Dirksen
THE EARLIEST VERSION OF BACH'S ART OF FUGUE

In the 20th century, several myths have emerged regarding Johann Sebastian Bach's Art of Fugue, some of which unfortunately are still alive today.

One of the most persistent misperceptions is the idea that Bach wrote an 'abstract' score which should be arranged for instrumental ensembles, though it has already long been proven that the work was written for harpsichord. Through intense research, especially from the last two decades (notably by Wolfgang Wiemer, Gregory Butler and Christoph Wolff) our knowledge about the background of this fascinating work has been deepened considerably. The idea that the Art of Fugue as Bach's final work was left behind in a rather chaotic state should therefore be seen as inaccurate. The main sources of Bach's Art of Fugue consist of an autograph (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, MS Bach P 200) and the posthumous print of 1751. Due to recent research, the status of the two sources as well as their mutual relationship had to be considerably revised. The printed version was ranked for a long time as a rather erratic work, in which the posthumous editors did scant justice to Bach's intentions. In this view P 200 was considered to be a sort of sketchbook, the content of which Bach was unable to work out completely for the printed version. This interpretation, which set the scene for the numerous 'new' orderings — mostly in con-junction with orchestrations alien to the work — has been proven untenable. It is now clear that the 1751 print does indeed predominantly reflect Bach's intentions.

This conclusion has, however, not diminished the stature of the autograph, as new insights have been brought about regarding this source as well. P 200 has been increasingly recognized as containing an independent, early version of the Art of Fugue. This new view was strengthened by the discovery, made on the basis of comparative watermark and handwriting analysis, that the manuscript did not originate in Bach's very last years but already in the early 1740s — probably in the year 1742. The work in the form found in P 200 has been repeatedly examined regarding its cyclical character, without leading to wholly convincing results. A plausible solution has only recently been discovered.' Previous interpretations of the version in P 200 foundered because all of the movements it contains were considered as a unity. Renewed scrutiny of the graphological evidence and the watermarks in combination with stylistical observations (in the context of Bach's other music of the 1740's) has led me to the conclusion that the earliest version of the Art of Fugue consisted of only twelve pieces (nos. 1-12 of the autograph). This part of the manuscript was most likely written in 1742.

The twelve-movement cycle is easily recognizable as an organic whole. An exhaustive analysis of its cyclical principles has been carried out elsewhere;' here, a few of the most salient points may be singled out. Two ordering principles which are present in other late cycles of Bach can also be found in the 1742 Art of Fugue: The cycle is completed by a canon in augmentation — a feature which is also found in the Fourteen Canons BWV 1087 and in the final version BWV 769a of the Canonic Variations `Vom Himmel hock, do komm ich her Bach retained this position of the augmentation canon in the printed version of the Art of Fugue as well. [II] The position of P 200 no. 7, the early ver-4 sion of the later Contrapunctus 6 in stylo francese', did previously not allow for a convincing cyclical explanation. In Bach's late keyboard cycles, a movement in this specific style is always placed at the opening of the second half of the work, as in Clavierabung 111(1739), the Well-Tempered Clavier II (ca.1739 — 1742) and the Goldberg Variations (1741). Both in the printed version and P 200 in its entirety the 'French' fugue does not occupy such a position; only in the twelve-movement early version does this fugue take its 'normal' place, opening the second half of the cycle.

The '1742' version exhibits a symmetrical structure with a progressive increase in the use of contrapuntal artifice. The cycle consists of three fugues in simple counterpoint (nos. 1-3) which are followed by six movements in double counterpoint (nos. 4- 9) and concluded by three more pieces, now in triple counterpoint (nos. 10-12). The treatment of the fugue as a contrapuntal principle contrasts with a work like the Well-Tempered Clavier (the second part of which was completed about the same time) in which the fugue is treated as a genre. In the Art of Fugue 'counterpoint' is thus emphasized by the dominance of multiple contrapuntal techniques. Strict ordering can also be found in the distribution of the rectus and inversus forms of the theme over the twelve movements. Half of them use only a single form; whereas three fugues (nos. 1, 3 and 5) use the normal form, and another three are devoted to the inverted version (nos. 2, 6 and 10). The other half of the fugues (nos. 4, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12) incorporate both forms simultaneously.

At a later stage (probably around 1747) Bach extended P 200 with two new mirror fugues (nos. 13-14) and a completely rewritten version of the augmentation canon (no. 15), which should be seen as the first step in preparing the work for publication. Shortly thereafter, these plans were finalized into the form we now know from the print. The most conspicuous changes which Bach made are the doubling of note values for a number of pieces and some major cyclic changes. In the latter process the `baroque' mixture of genres was exchanged for a more 'didactic' ordering according to genre. Above all, this revision brings about the important practical implication that the early version is much more a concert cycle than the printed version, which has more the character of a rationally ordered fugue compendium with little regard towards cyclic performance. In the ordering of the early version, the theme undergoes various transformations in a consequent and logical development, while in the printed version this development begins anew with each different group. The performance time needed for the 'dynamic' early version is moreover much shorter than the 'static' printed version. The length of the early version can be compared with Bach's other large harpsichord cycles such as the French Overture BWV 831. In fact, the early version is shorter than the Goldberg Variations BWV 988.

The present recording is based upon a reconstruction of this twelve-part early version. The later re-visions in the manuscript have been omitted in order to recapture the original text of the 1742 version. The decisions which had to be made contain, to be sure, an element of subjectivity. Many corrections are easily identifiable as later emendations. However, other corrections may have already been carried out while Bach was copying the pieces. Thus, the version presented here is hypothetical in character — offering, nonetheless, fascinating perspectives. One such example is the early version of the chromatic triple fugue no. 11, where one encounters striking dissonances and harmonic clashes occasioned by some uncompromising voice leading which were only later resolved. Contrary to the printed version, this fugue is ordered right after its pendant on the same thematic constellation in inversion (no. 10). Together they form the expressive culmination of the whole cycle. The two framing canons, which, in their rather introverted, concentrated two-part writing, stand in striking contrast to the two triple fugues. These four pieces form the closing part of the early version of the Art of Fugue. This recording is an attempt to revive the earliest and perhaps most unified version of Bach's last major harpsichord work.

As has already been mentioned, around the year 1747 Bach made an 'interim' version of the Art of Fugue, in which the augmentation canon was completely recast and two newly composed mirror fugues added, which should stand before this canon. These three additional pieces have been recorded as well, and with the possibilities of CD technology one can listen to this second version of the cycle by pre-programming nos. 1-11 and 13-17. The resulting fourteen-movement cycle must have represented Bach's thoughts about the Art of Fugue before he decided upon a much more radical revision —the final version as found in the 1751 print. The present recording does also show that the mirror fugues are indeed playable by two hands alone (which has routinely been doubted thus far), thus demonstrating that even those pieces were conceived for a single harpsichord. The most startling feature of the mirror fugues is perhaps not so much the technical feat in itself which Bach brings off here, but rather the musical wonder of the inverted version of both fugues: these are markedly different in expression from the normal version, reaching out as it seems to the very limits of musical experience.

Pieter Dirksen

(Interesting that he says that the mirror fugues are playable by one person.)
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 01:35:53 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #442 on: September 22, 2020, 02:02:04 AM »
^A lot of the technical language around counterpoint practice goes over my head, but that is pretty interesting; so the 12 were written first and the "mirror fugues" were added on later.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #443 on: September 22, 2020, 06:41:06 AM »

I've actually accumulated a bunch of AoFs: Leonhardt/DHM, Rosen/Sony, Goebel/Musica Antiqua Köln/Archiv, and more recently Walcha/Archiv.

All good. I like Leonhardt 1/Guild as well.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #444 on: September 22, 2020, 07:25:41 AM »
^A lot of the technical language around counterpoint practice goes over my head, but that is pretty interesting; so the 12 were written first and the "mirror fugues" were added on later.

And the 12 were conceived as a cycle according to Dirksen. That’s why I thought of it when you said you don’t often listen to the whole thing at once.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #445 on: September 22, 2020, 08:38:41 AM »
This may be of

Thoughts like this must always be taken with a grain of salt. The "cycle" Dirksen imagines is rather inhomogeneous and doesn't lead to a natural culmination. It's more convincing to assume that Bach meant Cpt.I - XI of the printed version as his final thoughts about a cycle culminating with Cpt. XI

Quote from: Mandryka
(Interesting that he says that the mirror fugues are playable by one person.)

The three-part mirror fugue is difficult and needs octave-substitutions for one or two notes. The four-part mirror fugue may theoretically be played by one player on one manual, but it is wery awkward and difficult to make into music, in contrast to how easily it can be played by two players on two manuals. Once again I remind of the two manual arrangement of the three-part mirror fugue (with the added fourth free part), probably made because this way of performance does the piece better justice. Bach didn't need to arrange the four-part mirror fugue for two manuals, because it can be played as such from the printed edition.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2020, 11:06:09 AM by (: premont :) »
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #446 on: September 26, 2020, 01:26:17 AM »
Belder sounds really good to me, I think I'll get it, but I'm also looking at the Emerson SQ recording for something completely different.

I've actually accumulated a bunch of AoFs: Leonhardt/DHM, Rosen/Sony, Goebel/Musica Antiqua Köln/Archiv, and more recently Walcha/Archiv. The music withstands a wide variety of interpretations, and accordingly each of these sounds completely different from one another. That being said, I'm not sure whether I fully understand the music yet or not. I definitely never listen to the work straight through all at once.

As mentioned in another thread, I think this is interesting to listen to if I feel like 'something different'.


The Art of Fugue; The Canadian Brass Ensemble

Offline Handelian

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #447 on: November 04, 2020, 01:25:46 PM »
As mentioned in another thread, I think this is interesting to listen to if I feel like 'something different'.


The Art of Fugue; The Canadian Brass Ensemble

I’ve had this recording for years. Most enjoyable realisation.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #448 on: November 04, 2020, 04:41:12 PM »
As mentioned in another thread, I think this is interesting to listen to if I feel like 'something different'.


The Art of Fugue; The Canadian Brass Ensemble

What puts me off by this otherwise well realized interpretation is its Salvation Army sound.
It's better to act today than to regret tomorrow.
(Mette Frederiksen)

Offline Handelian

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Re: The Art of Fugue
« Reply #449 on: November 05, 2020, 03:28:34 AM »
What puts me off by this otherwise well realized interpretation is its Salvation Army sound.

Come to the North of England. Plenty of brass bands around here outside of the Sally Bash!