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Bach: The Art of Fugue

Johann Sebastian Bach , Andrew Rangell Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Andrew Rangell
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (September 25, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Steinway & Sons
  • ASIN: B008P76WXY
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,218 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

In the last decade of his life Bach joyfully and purposefully immersed himself in the culmination of a life's work - intending to place his own indelible stamp on the vanishing art of pure counterpoint. The Art of Fugue is Bach's final major instrumental composition, a prodigious demonstration of contrapuntal craft. This new recording features Andrew Rangell, one of the truly distinguished Bach interpreters of the present day. The Steinway label is establishing a reputation for capturing the sound of their instruments, the finest in the world, in these exceptional audiophile recordings.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation October 7, 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Update, September 12, 2013: After almost a year, I must admit that I have retreated in my praise for Rangell's emphasis for the fugal line. Particularly influenced by Bradley Brookshire's essay "Beyond Modernism and Formalism in Performance and Recording of Bach's Art of the Fugue", I believe that emphasizing just the fugal subject does a disservice to the importance of the counter-subjects. I still find Rangell's recording to be my favorite on piano.

Original Review:

Andrew Rangell is one of my favorite Bach artists today. His Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 is my favorite recording of the works. The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. I recommend Bradley Lehman's review on that album as well - it captures well Rangell's inventive rhythms.

As soon as I saw that this was released, I bought a copy. But I was disappointed - although I liked this rhythmic variation (see my review of Bradley Brookshire's recording on harpsichord, my favorite on that instrument: Art of the Fugue), his sudden dynamic shifts seemed jarring and unexpected.

After a week or so, I decided to listen to Rangell again. What I realized was that Rangell, alone of any pianist I have heard, really accentuates dynamically the leading voices in the counterpoint. The dynamic shifts aren't a result of inadequate technique, but rather the highest technique. Every other piano recording I have heard (MacGregor, for instance) ebbs and flows in dynamics as the piece proceeds, but not within the lines themselves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well played and well recorded example of BWV1080 January 1, 2013
Format:Audio CD
The Art of Fugue consists of fourteen fugues and 4 canons. The fugues themselves can be considered as a set of variations, as indicated in Mr. Rangell's illustrative liner notes. However, there is more here than just intellectual exercise. Under Mr. Rangell's touch, it is clear that while some of the material is certainly slated to serve as material for the serious student, it is also evident that there is playfulness and (particularly in the case of the unfinished Contrapunctus 14) some sense of emotional closure at work. Bach has something to say in the music, and what is communicated is very human, warm, and satisfying.

As for the four canons, each of which is also a variation on the same theme, the particularly virtuosic Canon alla ottava is a treat to listen to - it is equal parts energetic, intellectually stimulating, driven, and fun. Mr. Rangell demonstrates that he is up to the challenge brought about both here and in the single, double, and triple fugues that make up the work as a whole.

I enjoyed this recording very much, and do indeed recommend it for the Bach fugue lover.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strikingly Original December 4, 2012
Format:MP3 Music|Verified Purchase
Rangell's performance is a performance of great depth. This is music I know quite well and have actually played much of it. Rangell is new to me, so I was rather skeptical about the possibility that this performance could represent anything new or insightful about this oft-recorded work. But it is new and insightful. I strongly urge people to explore how he performs the first fugue. Notice how he modulates the melodic lines in ways that really are innovative and revelatory. There is sinuous quality to this performance. The Art of the Fugue is like a chiseled crystal that changes as it is turned. Light moves differently through it. Rangell turns this work around 180 degrees and give us a new way to listen to this complex music. Very strongly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the view at the summit October 19, 2012
Format:Audio CD
I normally think of the Art of Fugue as a kind of musical narrative that grips the listener at an intellectual level. In this performance, it is that but it is also a song that has the senses dancing to the beauty and balance of Bach's masterwork.

It is the song of intellect that we experience here. Oddly, it sings of hope and triumph. Who would have thought it of the Art of Fugue!
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