Recorded on 08/17/2011, uploaded on 02/23/2012
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
One of Johann Sebastian Bach’s last and greatest masterpieces, The Art of Fugue is a collection of 14 fugues and 4 canons, all based on the same subject. It has long been entrenched in mystery: questions abound surrounding its instrumentation (whether intended for harpsichord, organ, strings or mixed ensemble); its purpose (some speculate that these fugues were meant as abstract compositions to be studied rather than performed); its motivation (divinity or the cosmos itself played a hand in the creation of this work); and its last unfinished fugue (the urban legend is that he died the instant that he penned the third fugal subject, with the pitches based upon his own name B-A-C-H). Although the many enigmas may never be definitively solved, what we know is that Bach was at the absolute height of his compositional powers, and this large-scale masterpiece demonstrates the composer’s absolute mastery of fugal writing after a lifetime submerged in perfecting it.These fugues are flawless in their craftmanship, yet they also contain a tremendous amount of vivacity, liveliness and contrast. Among the fugues chosen for this particular recital program, one can find music that is profoundly beautiful, spiritual, emotionally intense, virtuosic, as well as light-hearted and jazzy. If there is a stigma regarding fugues as being inaccessible and academic, these works completely shatter those labels. The listener’s left brain may be stimulated by the intellectual complexities of the contrapuntal puzzles, yet the right brain is swept along on an imaginative journey that explores the entire range of human expression in its search for musical truth. Winston Choi
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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