J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Art of Fugue

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Zoltan Kocsis
Soloists:Zoltan Kocsis
with Ferenc Rados (Contrapunctus 12-14, 19)
Individual Works:Contrapunctus 1-19
Canon in Hypodiatessaron
BWV 1080
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Philips
Catalog Number:412 729
Year Released/Recorded:1984
Total Playing Time:2cd's: 101:13
Related Web Site:http://www.bmc.hu/kocsis/index2_en.htm
Comments:John Stimson said:

From the notes, some thought went into performing the work as it was originally intended. Recording quality is good, but I have no reference for comparison of the performance itself, which is at the very least competent.

Jan Hanford said:

I found the performance much more than competent; it is stunning. There are many recordings of the Art of Fugue on harpsichord or various intrumental ensembles but too few on piano. One of Bach's most intellectual works, it becomes highly musical in the hands of Zoltan Kocsis. A remarkable performance. Sadly this cd is out of print.

Matt Williams said:

Words can't describe how this music, and particularly this recording, has affected my life. A few years ago at the age of 17 and not knowing Bach from Beethoven I came accross a CD in the local store titled " The Art of Fugue". I thought the title itself was interesting and purchased it. I listened inside my car as Zoltan plugged away at the keyboard. To tell you the truth it sounded to me a bunch of notes jumbled around in no particular discernable pattern;except of course the fugue exposition. Being curious as to how someone could enjoy this music I gave it a chance and listened periodically thoughout the week. I slowly became attracted to C. 10 with its flowing lines and beautiful tone. I began to recognize that the exposition was being played again and again in different voices thoughout the song. It was not long after than I could hear the subject inverted and in even cannonic inversion.
This was my first glimpse into the extraordinary complexity of this music. I found myself becoming almost addicted to most of the songs on the recording,striving to pick out the subjects of each and every song, amazed at the utter genius it took to create such works. The incredibly complex and mysteriously beautiful harmonies penetrated my soul to the core. "Normal" teenage music became secondary and almost null. My teenage friends suffered as we were driving around or on road trips. I tried to teach them how to listed to this music, yet they could only respond with glazed eyes-it of course sounds like jumbled notes to them, right?

Anyway, eight years later I have learned to play #1, 3, 10, 11, 14, and the canon in hypodiapason, because it is and always be a part of my life whether I like it or not. What did Mr. Bach do to me?

Kari Heino said:

I have carefully listened to very many "Kunst der Fuge" recordings, and I honestly think that this is the best. It does not really matter how Bach intended this piece of music to be played. Piano is a marvelous instrument. Many rock & roll oriented people have listened with me this recording, and most of them like it.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • John Stimson
  • Matt Williams
  • Kari Heino
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:01/07/1996