J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Art of Fugue

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Kenneth Gilbert
Individual Works:Art of Fugue, BWV 1080
Fugues 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Canon in hypodiapason,
perpetuus fugues 10,11
Canon in hypodiatesseron
al roverscio e per augmentationem
perpetuus fugues 13 inversus
13 rectus
14 inversus
14 rectus.
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Archiv Produktion
Catalog Number:427 673-2
Year Released/Recorded:1989
Total Playing Time:58'41
Comments:Stu Cohen said:

The Art of Fugue has been the subject of controversy for years: Was it actually Bach's final composition? Was it intended for performance? In what order are the pieces to be played? For what instrument or instruments was the cycle composed? Fortunately, the lack of definitive answers to many of these questions, especially the one about instrumentation, has resulted in many diffeent wonderful versions being recorded over the years. As to the question of when it was written, Christoph Wolf argues persuasively in the notes to Gilbert's delightful album, that Bach began writing the Art of Fugue in the early 1740s (and perhaps even earlier) and edited and augmented it toward the end of his life. Wolf's conclusions are based on comparisons of the autograph and manuscript copies that survive. Kenneth Gilbert's recording is a special one because it is derived solely from the earlier autograph score. Gilbert's playing is, as always, full and rich, aided by a well-recorded harpsichord built in 1671 in Antwerp and enlarged in Paris in 1758 and 1759. This isn't the only recording of the composition you should own, but it's certainly one of them. (I heartily agree with Alan Warhaftig about the Marriner--it's wonderful and packaged with the equally fine version of the Musical Offering, is a great bargain.)

Jan Hanford said:

Exquisite performance by Kenneth Gilbert. An important recording because he uses the earlier version of the autograph score. Significantly shorter than the usual recorded version but no less compelling. Highly recommended.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Stu Cohen
And from the collection Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:04/08/1996