Customer Review

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 9 Jun 2008
This review is from: Bach, J.S.: The Art of Fugue - Emerson String Quartet (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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