Academic journal article Notes

Johann Sebastian Bach

Academic journal article Notes

Johann Sebastian Bach

Article excerpt

Johann Sebastian Bach. The Art of Fugue. George Ritchie. Fugue State Films FSF-DVD-0001 (2010), CD/DVD.

There is much to savor in this lavish package from Fugue State Films, but the main course is George Ritchie's magnificent recording of the Art of Fugue, made on the Richards, Fowkes, & Co. organ at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Scottsdale, Arizona. Ritchie, Professor of Organ Emeritus at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, chose to record the later version, for which Bach revised various pieces, rearranged the order, and added new works for a total of fourteen fugues and four canons. In his essay "An Approach to the Art of Fugue," which is included in the booklet accompanying the two CDs and DVD, Ritchie credits the combination of Christoph Wolff's scholarship on the Art of the Fugue--including his publication of both the early and the final version--and the building of the organ based on central German organs of Bach's time by Ralph Richards and Bruce Fowkes in 2006 for leading him to fulfill the goal he had for decades of recording this version. Another key figure in this endeavor is Helmut Walcha (1907-1991), a blind German organist who specialized in performing, recording, and teaching the organ works of J. S. Bach, who Ritchie studied with in the 1960s and to whom he dedicated this recording. Ritchie describes Walcha's completion of the fragmentary final fugue as "one of the most successful of several that have been published," and he includes his recording of it here as a bonus track (in addition to his recording of the unfinished final fugue in Bach's manuscript). Due to the time constraints of the format, Ritchie was forced to add a second CD to accommodate all of the pieces. …

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