I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Art of Fugue - Pierre-Laurent Aimard

#alttext# Bach's Kunst der Fuge is a special work in many respects. For one, it is treated as Bach's final opus, a collection of fugues built around a simple minor theme, each one seemingly more complex than the last, until the final multipart movement ends without a conclusion... history has taught us Bach died before being able to compose the last notes. Such a story is a Romantic one, but the reason for the work laying incomplete is but a small piece of the puzzle. Monsieur Aimard plays the work on a modern piano here, but scholars aren't conclusive (or definitive) as to what instrument Bach may have intended. The lack of specificity may in fact lead to several plausible conclusions: * the work is theoretical, and therefore was not marked with instrumentation, * the work was still in a planning stage, yet to be "orchestrated," * Bach didn't care how you listened, he heard it in his head... Some have concluded it wasn't completely for keyboard instrument, since some sections are difficult to play with 2 hands. The open score format might point to the fact that it was a work in progress, or intended as a treatise. Some performers have taken the open score as an invitation to orchestrate the work themselves, using strings, winds, or combinations of instruments along with some keyboard. Organ versions exist, and so why not piano by Monsieur Aimard? This is my first recording by this man, whose repertoire is far often more modern than baroque. His touch is rather middle of the road: he doesn't play particularly detached (say, ala Gould), and at the same time, he's not legato-Romantic, either. He's also not overly expressive; he seems to treat each contrapunctus as its own thing, by maintaining a uniform tempo throughout. Dynamics and subtleties are there, performed with mostly very reasonable taste. In this way, going with Aimard is safe. It's a good quality recording but nothing presented is controversial. Far more innovative is the reading by Vladimir Feltsman. Safe doesn't always make for the most revered recording. I value having it, but ultimately feel it lacks the depth of profundity that a work like Bach's BWV 1080 deserves. (I should mention this is my favorite work of all time, and with that appreciation feel it has depths of emotion in those contrapuntci that deserve a deeper, almost more serious reading.)

Café Zimmermann, Concertos volume 2