Magazine article Gramophone

Bach's the Art of Fugue: Three Chamber Versions of Bach's Contrapuntal Compendium, and How Gramophone Rated Them

Magazine article Gramophone

Bach's the Art of Fugue: Three Chamber Versions of Bach's Contrapuntal Compendium, and How Gramophone Rated Them

Article excerpt

JUNE 1992

JS Bach The Art of Fugue, BWV1080

Juilliard Quartet

Sony Classical (F) (2) CD45937 (90' * DDD)

From an expressive standpoint this is very much a 20th-century performance but one in which vibrato, portamento and the like are kept under strict supervision. To begin with I found the playing a little mannered, although I soon became involved in the thoughtful and musicianly approach of these artists. Many points of style are convincingly realised, and throughout there is an illuminating clarity of texture, purity of sound and impeccable intonation which make for satisfying listening. In short, a splendid achievement. Only diehard purists will be disappointed (and we should perhaps feel sorry for them). Nicholas Anderson

JULY 1998

JS Bach The Art of Fugue, BWV1080

Keller Quartet

ECM New Series (F) 457 849-2 (72' * DDD)

Comparisons are both instructive and rewarding in that while the Juilliard employ their full arsenal of expressive devices (pronounced vibrato being especially prominent), the Keller take their lead from the early-music specialists, sometimes virtually abandoning vibrato altogether and opting for an often seamless legato, less emphatic accents and a more blended pooled tone, with subtle bulges at the centre of the note. …

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