Magazine article Gramophone

Rangell Resumes His Bach Voyage with the Unfinished BWV1080

Magazine article Gramophone

Rangell Resumes His Bach Voyage with the Unfinished BWV1080

Article excerpt

JS Bach

The Art of Fugue, BWV1080

Andrew Rangell pf

Steinway & Sons (F) 30012 (74' * DDD)

Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge,BWV1080, remains among the most prodigious models of composition in the entire history of music. But if, intellectually speaking, it looms like some formidable mountain peak and if, as Andrew Rangell puts it in his memorable accompanying essay, 'the language is austere, the tone serious', its chief wonder is surely its capacity 'to blend instruction with delight'. Scholarly achievement and imaginative volition combine in music that is as moving as it is daunting. More pragmatically, Die Kunst der Fuge consists of 14 fugues and four canons deriving from the opening fugue, all encompassed within the single key of D minor. Yet while this suggests a tremendous degree of concentration, increasingly I find myself struck by Bach's sheer audacity. For here, as Rangell again puts it, is Bach 'alone with his genius', happily indifferent to accusations of obscurity and intent only in the vast meditation of his final major instrumental composition on the summa of his art, though one that is incomplete, ending in an abrupt and poignant silence.

Praise for Rangell's dedication and total immersion in his task could hardly be high enough: inseparable intellectual and virtuoso demands are met with unfaltering clarity and expressive beauty. …

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