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Bach, J.S.: The Art of Fugue - Emerson String Quartet

August 12, 2003 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: August 5, 2003
  • Release Date: August 12, 2003
  • Label: DG
  • Copyright: (C) 2003 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:19:52
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B0015T46T6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,791 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Bach's ultimate composition has so often been described as cerebral that it's inclined to put a casual listener off. Much as I admire Charles Rosen's piano recording, for example, I find it's not uncommon for the mind to wander off somewhere around the halfway mark. Perhaps it's the strings' ability to project a lyrical line, but I find the Emerson Quartet gripping from beginning to premature end, and after living with this CD for a while, the work makes more sense to me. The Art of Fugue is a monumental piece of art: like a great sculpture, it simply exists, and as a listener you may bring to it as much or as little as you like without affecting its integrity. Unlike, say, a Mahler symphony, it does not demand complete emotional commitment (except from the performers, which it definitely gets here)- and yet, when the music just stops mid-stream at the point where Bach supposedly died, the shock is greater than any number of Mahlerian hammer blows.

Beautifully recorded, sensitively played and, to descend to earth for a moment, I notice it's also discounted. Perfect.
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Format: Audio CD
The Emerson Quartet are the last word is modern, slick string quartet groups. Their extremely streamlined sound works very well sometimes, othertimes not. Their recording are usually worth a listen, and usually rank high with the Gramophone, Penguin & BBC critics, but I often find I enjoy other quartets more in given works, and have often traded in for different versions. Too often, they're just too slick. In this case, that slickness works in just the right way.
My other string quartet version is a magnificent one by The Juilliard Quartet, their approach being completely different from the present set. The Juilliard perform this work, solemnly, deeply, and slowly, as if played in a cloister, or the medieval room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It seems as if they've tried to make their quartet have the aural identity of a combo of viols (which is another good choice for this work, see the album by Fretwork, or parts of Jordi Savall's conception). If you're in the right frame of mind, and see this work as primarily a communion with the higher power, or a last throwback to the days of Sainte Columbe and Marin Marais, it would be hard to top this. I think one of this quartets best records.

In comparison, The Emersons provide a soundtrack for an art deco streamlined railway journey...their tempos are consistantly faster, with more sprite in their steps. The work certainly is EASIER to listen to this way, especially complete in one sitting. Their blend is smooth, they play wonderfully, but do lack the gravitas brought to the room by The Juilliards, or The Delme Quartet on Hyperion (in an edition prepared by Robert Simpson).
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Format: Audio CD
If one word could sum up this performance it would be "smooth." I have come late to the recordings of the Emerson String Quartet. This has to be among this very worthwhile group's best.
The Art of the Fugue is, if not my favorite piece by Bach, then certainly high on the short-list. This is music fully realized--with an almost mystic greatness. Les Violins du Roy and the Delme Quartet (in Robert Simpson's arrangement) have both done great chamber versions of the work.
This recording by the Emerson Quartet is well at ease in such lofty company.
This recording lets the music speak for itself. It does so brilliantly. The crystal clear sound quality works hand in hand with the performance.
Everything here is evenhanded and well judged. This is pulled off without any loss of the music's passion, fire, or insight. I cannot recommend this version of Bach's last great work highly enough.
If you are considering getting a copy, do not hesitate.
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Format: Audio CD
In a catalogue flooded with realizations of "The Art of Fugue" on every keyboard instrument and for every other ensemble imaginable, including saxophone quartet, did we really need another string quartet version? For myself, I will be sending my other string quartet recordings of these pieces to the resale bin. The Emersons bring to this music, as they bring to Beethoven, Shostakovich, Webern, and Bartók (or anything else they touch), a quality in which they really do exceed the possible sum of their parts: impeccable technical skills, agile intelligence, warm heart, infectious energy, and a breathtaking sense of ensemble. Each individual voice breathes with an independence rarely achieved in performance of this work, and yet each seems somehow utterly inseparable from the others. Definitely a performance to shelve with the keepers - just like any other recording by this remarkable band of musical brothers.
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Format: Audio CD
Here we have yet another wonderful recording from the Emerson
String Quartet. This time they bring their unique performing
feel to the music of J.S. Bach in one of his final expressions
of music "The Art of Fugue". Most performances of this work have
what can only be described as a totally intellectual feel to
them, this recording is quite different in the fact that the
Emersons bring a feeling of humanity to the work. The final piece
performed as a close to the work is the Chorale "Before Thy
throne do I come now." BWV 668a is one of Bach's final thoughts
It is a fitting close to this work, which is a fitting close to
Bach's musical life. The recording done by Deutsche Grammaphon
is warm, intimate, yet with just enough feel of the room to keep
it from sounding "boxy" Hearing this work in a chamber setting
helps the listener follow the various paths and trails that Bach
put together to show us his little garden or park where we can
imagine following him around as he shows us the way. Bach's music
can be quite an adventure of exploration, The Art of Fugue is his
map to perhaps what has been called "The Undiscovered Country".
I suggest getting this CD and making the journey with him as
often as possible. Is this recording the last word on the
subject? No, but it is one of the finest ones to come along in a
long time. Highly recommended.
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