The two films on this DVD combine some of the most demanding chamber works ever written. Recorded at the atmospheric Academy of Sciences in Budapest, the Keller Quartet plays a version of Bach’s unfinished masterpiece The Art of the Fugue for string quartet intertwined with works by renowned contemporary composer György Kurtág – a programme that the four Hungarians developed and have successfully performed on international stages. Anner Bylsma, Dutch master cellist and world-renowned as a distinguished interpreter of Bach’s cello music, plays the solo suites. The suites, on which he has also published an authoritative book, count among the most popular baroque chamber works. Anner Bylsma plays the famous Stradivarius “Servais” and the disc was recorded in the beautiful village church St Bartholomew of Dornheim in Thuringia.
This new version by the greatly-gifted young Hungarian pianist Zoltan Kocsis, again vindicates the contention that The Art of Fugue makes its best effect as a keyboard work, even if on a modern piano. For Kocsis Bach's intellectual and technical demands seem to pose no problems: his exposition of the polyphonic conversation, whether, two, three or four participants are involved, is always admirably lucid and enables each voice to have its say. This is no doubt helped by the rather dry quality of the Hungaroton/ Philips recording on LP (the CD is appreciably fuller and brighter), and by Kocsis's very discreet use of the sustaining pedal.
He was born in 's-Graveland, North Holland and studied organ and harpsichord from 1947 to 1950 with Eduard Müller at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel. In 1950, he made his debut as a harpsichordist in Vienna, where he studied musicology. He was professor of harpsichord at the Academy of Music from 1952 to 1955 and at the Amsterdam Conservatory from 1954. He was also a church organist.wiki
"Bach's unfinished Art of Fugue, published for still-debated reasons in open score, has been performed and recorded in dozens of different instrumental versions. But this one, by the veteran Akademie für alte Musik, founded in the former East Berlin, is unique; few others have differentiated the fugues by instrumental forces deployed, and perhaps in none has the overall effect been quite so kaleidoscopic as this one. (…) The sound engineering, a product of Berlin's Teldex Studio, is a major strong point." ~allmusic
Die Kunst der Fuge: what a way to make your Deutsche Grammophon solo recording debut. That's especially true if you're Pierre-Laurent Aimard, whose full-time gig is with Pierre Boulez's Ensemble InterContemporain and whose reputation was made in the avant-garde and not the late Baroque. Recorded in translucent digital sound in the Mozart-Saal of Vienna's Konzerthaus, this recording deserves a wide audience, despite its apparent mismatch between performer and music.
On this CD:
Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of the Fugue), for keyboard (or other instruments), BWV 1080
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
with New Bach Collegium Musicum Leipzig
Conducted by Max Pommer
This performance has introduced me to Die Kunst Der Fuge, and I have not yet heard other recordings. Words cannot describe what I felt while first listening to this Heavenly music. It is at once sublime and monumental, personal and universal, melancholic and ecstatic. This work shows the master at his finest. Indeed music as a pure art form has its apotheosis in this work. I believe nothing can surpass its beauty and mastery. Again words cannot describe it, so all I can say is listen