J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Art of Fugue

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Peter Elyakim Taussig
Individual Works:Art of Fugue
BWV 1080
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Crystal Music
Catalog Number:MS102
Year Released/Recorded:2001
Total Playing Time:73:23
Related Web Site:http://www.crystalmusic.com/taussig/
Comments:Review by Jan Hanford:

Performance: astonishing
Recording: excellent

This cd is an exciting and historical achievement.

After a successful career as a concert pianist, Peter Taussig was unable to continue playing due to carpal tunnel syndrome. He then turned his attention to the Yamaha Disklavier, a real (acoustic) grand piano controlled by midi. It's a state-of-the-art "player" piano, with integrated computer technology. Every nuance of the performance is stored, can then be edited using sequencer software, and then played back on the piano. Peter has done this to an amazing level of expression and beauty. Considered controversial by some, the Disklavier Piano does not eliminate the virtuoso from the performance, it gives the musician a powerful tool to program, record and refine their interpretation, creating the ultimate performance.

I found this interpretation of the Art of Fugue to be truly remarkable. I was surprised by the extreme speed of a couple of the movements, much faster than most I've heard. Few, if any, pianists could manage such speed and maintain the integrity of the voices. But the clarity of the individual lines made possible through programming the Disklavier is impressive; the speed is not frantic, muddy or inappropriate; it is exciting. The slow movements contain nuances of expression rarely heard in live performances. This is not to trivialize live performances, of course. But it is fascinating to hear the level of detail in the articulation of the voices made possible through editing the performance after the fact. It is possible to create separation and expression in the voices not possible in a live performance, and reveals much in the music. The attitude that midi is robotic is now obsolete. This is a warm, expressive and extremely human performance.

The sound of the piano is close, intimate and nicely placed in stereo. It is an extraordinary performance in every way, and has become an often-played treasure in my collection.

Acknowledgements:From the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:12/06/2001