A new recording from violinist Rachel Podger is always worth attention. And before you even get to appreciating the first-class performances - faithful realizations of Bach’s Art of Fugue skillfully arranged for strings - you notice the immediate, vibrant presence of the instruments. The sound is stunning, reminiscent of the early days of digital recording, when listeners used to marvel at how realistic the sound was. Channel Classics has been doing this forever; we just may have forgotten how special it is when it’s done right.
2CD set "The Art of Fugue" is the long-anticipated 4th volume in Richard Troeger's ground breaking, world premiere series of Bach performed on the clavichord, exclusively from the Lyrichord Early Music Series. This edition features the complete Art of the Fugue, along with stunning violin transcriptions, and fantasias, including the thrilling "Chromatic Fantasia" and "Fugue." The first three volumes garnered raves reviews both here and abroad.
This long-deleted Essential Classics reissue (available again courtesy of Arkivmusic.com’s on-demand reprint program) comprises the first CD remastering of two separate Bach piano releases. One disc features Rosalyn Tureck’s Bach Album, an early-1981 digital production made up mostly of short pieces, plus the Aria and Variations in Italian Style. The close-up yet warm sonics capture the full measure of Tureck’s technical specificity, subtle use of color, and micromanaged dynamics. Notice her absolute linear control in the F minor suite’s Prelude (first sound clip), or how her seemingly over-detached articulations (the seventh Italian variation) always maintain a lilting presence.
Even though Angela Hewitt's repertoire is quite extensive and diverse, encompassing the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern eras, her true specialty is the music of J.S. Bach, which she has recorded almost exclusively for Hyperion since the 1980s. With this recording of The Art of Fugue, Hewitt completes her long-running series of piano renditions of the solo keyboard works, and while not everyone is convinced that Bach composed this study of fugal techniques for the keyboard, Hewitt's performance is credible and satisfying. She controls the often unwieldy counterpoint by regarding the lines as if they were vocal parts, and her phrases are shaped by natural breathing points, as well as the different emotional qualities she brings to each fugue and canon. The Art of Fugue can be daunting for both performer and listener because its persistent tonality of D minor and monothematic material can be quite tedious in the wrong hands.