Rachel Podger, Brecon Baroque – JS Bach: The Art Of Fugue, BWV1080 (2016)
SACD Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 70:28 minutes | Covers + PDF Booklet | 3,4 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/96 kHz | Covers + Digital Booklet | 1,44 GB
Features Stereo and Multichannel Surround Sound | Channel Classics # CCS SA 38316
Rachel Podger has been recording and performing Bach’s music for violin to critical acclaim for over two decades. In 2015 she became the tenth (and first female) recipient of the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize. On this release she leads her own ensemble, Brecon Baroque, in JS Bach’s monumental Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge). Bach’s The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, broken off at the end by the composer’s death, was written out in open score, with no indication of instrumentation. This has given rise over the years to a variety of instrumental realizations, with keyboard performances being the most common, but string orchestra, or wind versions, and so forth, are also often essayed.
Bach’s The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, broken off at the end by the composer’s death, was written out in open score, with no indication of instrumentation. This has given rise over the years to a variety of instrumental realizations, with keyboard performances being the most common, but string orchestra, or wind versions, and so forth, are also often essayed. This version, led by English, period-performance specialist Rachel Podger with her small Brecon Baroque ensemble, is part of a much smaller group: those that apply different settings to the various fugues in the set. Most are for combinations of strings, but a harpsichord may or may not be added, and harpsichordist Marcin Swiatkiewicz gets a couple of fugues on his own. The arrangements are presumably by historical-performance conductor John Butt, who wrote the booklet notes, but even he does not attempt to justify the procedure beyond some general suggestions that the work might not have been as abstract as it’s generally supposed. Podger’s version, lushly beautiful as it may be on the surface, disturbs that abstract quality, and individual listeners may decide for themselves whether they buy the approach. It is not clear why some fugues get harpsichord accompaniment, which is placed pretty far in the background in any event, but you could try sampling adjacent pieces without and with the harpsichord to see what you think. The intimate but clear sound from Channel Classics, working in London’s Church of St-Jude-on-the-Hill is a major plus.
01. Contrapunctus 1
02. Contrapunctus 2
03. Contrapunctus 3
04. Contrapunctus 4
05. Canon alla Ottava
06. Contrapunctus 9
07. Contrapunctus 10
08. Contrapunctus 5
09. Contrapunctus 6
10. Contrapunctus 7
11. Contrapunctus 8
12. Contrapunctus 11
13. Canon alla duodecima
14. Contrapunctus 12
15. Canon alla Decima
16. Contrapunctus 13
17. Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu
18. Contrapunctus 14
Rachel Podger – violin
Johannes Pramsohler – violin, viola
Jane Rogers – viola
Alison McGillivray – cello
Marcin Świątkiewicz – harpsichor
Produced by Jonathan Freeman-Attwood. Engineered & Edited by Jared Sacks.
Recorded on December 15-17, 2015 at Church of Saint Jude-on-the-Hill, London.