BACH: The Art of the Fugue BWV 1080 – Bradley Brookshire, harpsichord + bonus CD-ROM of entire score – Bach Harpsichord Inc.

by | Feb 25, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

BACH: The Art of the Fugue BWV 1080 – Bradley Brookshire, harpsichord  + bonus CD-ROM of entire score – Bach Harpsichord Inc. [] **** [Distr. by ClassiQuest]:

Thought of placing this in the DualDisc section but it’s quite different from any other DualDisc. The first disc is a standard CD with the complete work, and the second is a cross-platform (bravo from us 8% Mac users!) CD-ROM with a clear full-screen view of the entire score accompanied in sync by the performance of the music. The sound file is of course MP3; I don’t know what sampling rate, but I was impressed by not being aware of much of the harpsichord’s delicate overtones being lost.  The computer tech specs are not extensive, so you should be able to play and view this on most any PC or Mac.

We’ve had numerous recordings of The Art of Fugue lately, for a variety of instruments since Bach didn’t actually specify a particular one.  Most of them are worth hearing, but my personal support goes to those musicologists who feel Bach wrote it to bring edification and intellectual joy to those connoisseurs of music adept enough to play it at their double-manual harpsichord.  This is the version I keep in mind when I’m listening to the work on the piano, marimba, synthesizer or sax quartet.

Brookshire discusses in his notes some of the many different ways to present The Art of Fugue.  His own approach seems to demonstrate his great love of the music, with an emphasis on its dramatic elements as well as a lighter touch than many of the too-serious interpretations out there.  His technique is beyond criticism, and following the score while listening to the recording is a superlative experience which I hadn’t done with keyboard music for a long time.  It deepens one’s appreciation of Bach’s genius so much more than just listening to it. It reminded me of how much more impressive those of Scarlatti’s Sonatas with wild hand-crossings become when one is able to see the printed music while listening to it (or even better, trying to play it!).  Just listening only, you miss all the action!

Brookshire’s recording of the complete Bach French Suites a few years back received many allocades, and his The Art of Fugue should follow the same route.  Highly recommended!

 – John Sunier

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