This 2-CD set is the first recording of the complete Art of Fugue ever to include Michael Ferguson's completion for the controversial last movement, Contrapunctus XIV. Reviews of Ferguson's completion
Engineered for the most vivid possible presence of organ sound and clarity of counterpoint, recorded in full 20-bit digital stereo.
The illustrated CD booklet includes a 30-page essay by the performer, which covers entirely new ground in Bach scholarship, showing in clear detail how the Art of Fugue relates to Bach's deepest artistic commitments:
1. MASTER OF THE EXTRAORDINARY:
A Portrait of Bach the Virtuoso Organist
An Organ Work, First and Last
2. MUSICAL FORM & SPIRIT:
New Information for an Old Controversy
Art of Fugue as Demonstration
Art of Fugue as Game
Art of Fugue as Suite
3. COMPLETENESS & ORDER:
The Art of Fugue in Performance
Completeness in Performance
Order of Movements in a Complete Performance
The Canons in a Complete Performance
The Last Canon
4. ARISTOTLE TAKEN AT HIS WORD:
Baroque Esthetics, Bachian Frenzy
The Enactment of an Ending
An important feature of this new recording, resulting from Ferguson's research, is heard in his pacing of the tempos of the movements, and of the time taken between them. As Glenn Gould showed with his recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations, such deliberate pacing greatly strengthens the unity of the performance. This recording thus presents in an ideal way Ferguson's view of the work as a single musical statement, composed by Bach as a single, continuous fugue lasting an hour and a half.
Another important feature is heard in Ferguson's use of a large instrument (a 56-rank Schantz located at the Church of St. Leo the Great, in Saint Paul, Minnesota), one of a power and subtlety comparable to the largest organs that Bach played upon and admired, such as the recently-restored organ at St. Wenzel's in Naumburg. This recording thus recreates Bach's likely registrational practice when performing on the instruments he loved the best, as reported by his students and colleagues. In other words, the ultimate Bach organ experience!
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