1976 Flentrop organ at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
1976 Flentrop organ at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

The Art of Escape (Part 1) #0029

The Art of Fugue to be performed at all, since he prepared it in open score and left the climax incomplete. On our next Pipedreams program, we give life to theory, as an international array of soloists leads us through Bach’s contrapuntal maze, this music which astounds the mind and delights the ear simultaneously. A fugue too many? Not to worry, we’ll provide a map to help you listen, and hand you all the keys necessary to open the doors of mystery. How does it end?

Contrapunctus I, main theme; –Barbara Harbach (1983 C.B. Fisk/Downtown United Presbyterian, Rochester, NY) Gasparo CD-282

Contrapunctus II, main theme, rhythmically varied –Glenn Gould (1960 Casavant Frères/All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Sony Classical SMK 52 595

Contrapunctus III, main theme inverted –Hakan Wikman (1658 Hagerbeer/Nieuwe Kerk, Haarlem, The Netherlands) Finlandia CD-98990

Contrapunctus IV, main theme inverted differently; –Thierry Mechler (1993 Muhleisen/St. Nicholas Church, Walbeck, Germany) Solstice CD-147

Contrapunctus V, varied main theme with its inversion; –Kei Koito (1754 Dom Bedos; 1985 Quoirin/Abbatiale Sainte-Croix, Bordeaux, France) Temperaments CD-316016/7

Contrapunctus VI, in French style with upright and inverted themes, also in diminution; –Bernard Lagacé (1961 Beckerath/Église Immaculée-Conception, Montréal, Québec, Canada) Analekta CD-23066/7

Contrapunctus VII, up and down, augementation and diminution; –Wolfgang Rübsam (1969 Metzler/St. Nikolaus Church, Frauenfeld, Switzerland) Philips 438 170

Contrapunctus VIII, two new themes, plus main theme varied; –Gerd Zacher (1714 König/St. Leodegar Monastery, Niederehe, Germany) Aeolus CD-10131; Contrapunctus IX, new theme and main theme; –Glenn Gould (1960 Casavant Frères/All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Sony Classical SMK 52 595

Contrapunctus IX, new theme and main theme; –Glen Gould (1960 Casavant Frères/All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Sony Classical SMK 52 595

Contapunctus X, inversion of varied main theme, plus new theme upright and inverted; –Jaroslav Tuma (1999 Slajch/Sacred Heart Church, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic) Supraphon 3439-2132

Contrapunctus XI, 6 themes; –Wolfgang Rübsam (1976 Flentrop/Duke University Chapel, Durham, NC) Naxos 8.550704

Contrapunctus XII, two pieces with varied main theme, first upright, then in mirror image; –Lionel Rogg (1959 Metzler/St. Peter Cathedral, Geneva, Switzerland) Angel LPSB-3766

Contrapunctus XIII, two pieces with varied main theme and its inversion, then in mirror image; –Lynn Zeigler (1987 Brombaugh/Iowa State University, Ames, IA) Calcante CD-011

Contrapunctus XIV, four themes, left incomplete; –Helmut Walcha (1725 F.C. Schnitger/Sint Laurenskerk, Alkmaar, The Netherlands) Archive 419 904

About the title: in France, the term to make a fugue means to take a trip or to run away. Try asking a computer to translate L’Art de la Fugue. In any event, listening to this magnum opus by Mr. Bach is, without a doubt, its own special kind of trip. And where once there was only one available recording of The Art of Fugue, now many performers have added their personal views to the ongoing discourse. We continue and complete the journey next week.