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Bach, J.S.: The Art of Fugue - Emerson String Quartet
 
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Bach, J.S.: The Art of Fugue - Emerson String Quartet

6 Oct 2003 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 July 2005
  • Release Date: 1 July 2005
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Copyright: (C) 2003 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:19:52
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LQQ8TO
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,305 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dermot Elworthy on 9 Jun 2008
Format: Audio CD
The number of reviews given here makes another from me superfluous but I should like to take issue with David Bryson's acerbic judgment on the ending of the work.

Essentially, the Art of Fugue is a cerebral exercise which can be produced on most keyboards or combinations of instruments. On the other hand, it's workings can be fully realised from the score without recourse to any instruments at all. Generally speaking, I am in accord with Mr Bryson regarding "emotion" - it has no place in the consideration of this work. Nevertheless, in this particular instance I feel an exception is required in respect of the ending (although it does not concern the music, per se).

I am not a particular fan of this quartet but having enjoyed this disc for several years, I consider that the Emersons play the AoF to perfection on this really excellent DG recording. Bach did not expire across the table during the writing of Contrapunctus XIV but their breaking off to leave it in its unfinished state with the BACH motif seemingly floating in some ghostly finality, to my mind at least, is musically acceptable in an historical sense, emotionally poignant and a thoroughly effective device. Perhaps I might feel differently if I was convinced of the rightness of any of the alternative endings subsequently put forward by others. For me, this version is just fine and I think the empty chairs in the cover photo is a clever allusion - assuming that it is . . .

However, I do agree with Bryson's views of the liner notes; these are unhelpfully pretentious.

Otherwise, this is a first class production; the un-coloured timbre evidently characteristic of the modern instruments used in this recording seems most appropriate.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Rees on 17 April 2007
Format: Audio CD
Bach's "Art of Fugue" occupies an important position in his overall output representing his most structured exploration of counterpoint, one of Bach's key preoccupations. The collection opens with a simple fugue the theme of which is subsequently reworked again and again employing ever more sophisticated contrapuntal devices. This is deep and stiring music with much beauty which relieves the possibility of austerity.

The Art of Fugue is not scored for any stated instrument but fits well on keyboard where almost all of the pieces are playable as written; keyboard versions, therefore predominated in recording. However, the string quartet setting delivers the sense of the music very powerfully and I have to declare myself a fan of this approach though I do play these pieces at the harpsichord myself. The key advantage of the string quartet setting is that each instrument can follow the voice through with optimum phrasing and fluency - somthing that not even the best keyboard player can master given the complex fingering that fugues demand. From a listening point of view therefore I would argue that the quartet is superior. There is also a warmth in the music that is very appealing.

The Emerson Quartet delivers an inspiring and engaging rendition of this important work. Timing, phrasing and touch are exemplary thoughout and the overall impression is of a serene and confident progression through one of the most important pieces of music ever written.

Indispensable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane TOP 100 REVIEWER on 17 May 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am no great expert on this music, but the string quartet in which I play is planning to make its way through it, section by section, and having begun the process, I find it exceedingly fulfilling and satisfying. I bought this highly-regarded CD to have a point of reference for this project, and I find it in every respect beautiful, thoughtful and worthy of the music. The players are expert, the sound is glorious, the approach highly musical and the balance and recording state-of-the-art. As time goes on I'll get to know it and appreciate it more fully and deeply - and I look forward to that - and I have no doubt that this CD will play a valuable part in that process.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Jan 2004
Format: Audio CD
Probably the first thing that needs saying here is that the anonymous performers are none other than the Emerson Quartet. The second thing that needs saying is that while the performance and recording are absolutely top-notch in my estimation, there are two things about this production that I quite strongly dislike. The first is that the big final fugue, believed to have been left unfinished by the dying composer, breaks off abruptly. To me, this is a completely pointless procedure. Either provide a conclusion or leave the piece unplayed altogether. Providing a conclusion here is not like trying to provide a missing last page to a symphony by Shostakovich or even by Haydn, where there would be no way of knowing what final surprises the composer might have in store. If Bach’s Art of Fugue is anything, it is some kind of ultimate in method and logical development. Bach’s own conclusion can’t be determined with complete certainty, but it can be predicted better than in most other works, and if one thing is absolutely certain it’s that Bach did not intend a sudden silence. There is a conclusion by Donald Francis Tovey, there is another used by Davitt Moroney in his eminent harpsichord rendering, and I expect there are numerous others. For anyone who cannot bear to listen to a single note not guaranteed as by Bach, an extra track could be created at the point where his manuscript leaves off, and the rest of us could ignore it and let the music play through to some coherent ending. My other problem is with a liner-note that I find utterly insufferable. Most music-lovers probably want some commentary and guidance in this abstruse and didactic score. What we are offered here is a text that tries to do incompatible things and does them both very badly.Read more ›
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