Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bach - Die Kunst der Fuge - Delme Quartet








Bach was still writing The Art of Fugue at the time of his death. The work was intended to explore the possibilities of counterpoint, but Bach never wrote dry, academic music. It served its didactic purpose, but always there is warm humanity bursting from it. The Art of Fugue has been arranged for many musical groupings, and is always at best a guess at what Bach had in mind. What Robert Simpson has done here is to transpose the work so that it is playable by a string quartet. He does so without apology--Bach himself was a great transposer--and the results are totally convincing. Simpson knows a thing or two about string quartets (his own are well worth checking out), and he has breathed life into a work that is given a terrific performance here by the Delmé Quartet. To some, Bach's contrapuntal writing is a bit like a musical sewing machine, but when it is given with a true sense of ebb and flow, as it is here, it is magnificent. There are extensive liner notes, but you don't need to be a student of counterpoint to get a lift from this music on a pure sit-back-and-enjoy basis. --Keith Clarke

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