18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Sublime music beautifully interpreted,
This review is from: Bach, J.S.: The Art of Fugue - Emerson String Quartet (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.