Reviews of Michael Ferguson's Recording of Bach's Art of Fugue

From THE ORGAN, November 15, 2003, issue No. 326:

"Should Bach's Art of Fugue be considered a work written for organ? Organist Michael Ferguson attempts boldly to answer the conundrum that has fascinated many a keyboardist since its posthumous publication by Johann Sebastian's son Carl Philipp Emanuel in 1751. Whenever I think of fugue, I'm drawn to Bach and the organ, so the title Art of Fugue does conjure up an association with JS's favoured instrument - a simple notion, I agree. Ferguson's research and reasoning for the work's acceptance for organ, however, is heavily detailed in the expansive notes that drive a lively and enlightening debate that is both entertaining and convincing.

"Ferguson's playing upon the 1985 built Schantz organ found in the Church of St Leo the Great, St Paul, Minnesota, USA, does much to prove the point and proves him a worthy practitioner of Bachian performance[.]

"[T]his is a disc of fine erudition and performance practice and, of course, you do need this work on organ and in your Bach collection."

2003 Musical Opinion Ltd.

From AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, January/February 2004:

"This idealistic and gratifying new recording of Bach's valedictory masterwork is accompanied by a substantial thought-provoking essay by the excellent performer. Ferguson advocates the organ, in a strong case, as the best instrument for this enigmatic but stirring work. He has also completed, most convincingly, the final Contrapunctus 14, left unfinished at Bach's death.

"Ferguson's playing of The Art of Fugue, which makes exceptional demands on the concentration of the performer, is noble, vitally musical, absolutely secure, idiomatic, and fashioned with insight and logic. His especially strong rhythm, maintained resolutely, helps to animate the music and to give it the austere dignity it needs and deserves. ...

"The recorded sound here is pleasing, with abundant warmth and good clarity[.] ...

It is easy to enthusiastically recommend this recording for its many admirable qualities. ... It would be best to acquire it without delay[.]"

2004 American Record Guide



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