Die Kunst der Fuge manuscript
Die Kunst der Fuge manuscript

The Art of Escape Revisited #1636

…an international array of soloists leads us through the magical intricacies of The Art of Fugue/Die Kunst der Fuge (S. 1080) by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Hour 1

Contrapunctus I (main theme) –Hans Fagius (1995 Lund/Garnison Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark) Bis

Contrapunctus II (main theme, rhythmically varied) –Colm Carey (1954 van Leeuwen-1995 Flentrop/Dutch Church, Austin Friars, London, England) Signum 027

Contrapunctus III (main theme inverted) –Régis Allard (2004 Aubertin/St.-Louis-en-l’Ile, Paris, France) Edition Hortus 039

Contrapunctus IV (main theme inverted differently) –Joan Lippincott (2008 GoArt ‘Casparini’ replica/Christ Church, Rochester, NY) Gothic 49278

Contrapunctus V (varied main theme with its inversion) –Elizabeth Sombart, piano; Jean-Christophe Geiser (2003 Fisk/Reformed Cathedral, Lausanne, Switzerland) IFO 07001

Contrapunctus VI (in French style with upright and inverted themes, also in diminution) –Ulrich Boehme (1766 Riepp/Ottobeuren Abbey, Germany) Motette 12661

Contrapunctus VII (up and down, augementation and diminution) –Helmut Walcha (1725 F.C. Schnitger/St. Laurens Church, Alkmaar, The Netherlands) Archive 477 6508

Contrapunctus VIII (two new themes, plus main theme varied) –Gerd Zacher (1714 König/St. Leodegar Parish, Niederehe) Aeolus CD-10131

Contrapunctus IX (new theme and main theme) –Cameron Carpenter (2013 Marshall & Ogletree/Jesus Christus Church, Berlin) Sony Classical 78262

Hour 2

Contapunctus X (inversion of varied main theme, plus new theme upright and inverted) –George Ritchie (2006 Richards, Fowkes/Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Scottsdale, AZ) Fugue State DVD 0001

Contrapunctus XI (6 themes) –E. Power Biggs (1937 Aeolian-Skinner/Germanic Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA) RCA M833 (78-rpm)

Contrapunctus XII (two pieces with varied main theme, first upright, then in mirror image) –Kevin Bowyer (1962 Marcussen/St. Hans Church, Odense, Denmark) Nimbus 5738/40

Contrapunctus XIII (two pieces with varied main theme and its inversion, then in mirror image) –André Isoir (1987 Grenzing/St. Cyprien’s Abbey, Perigord) Calliope CD-3719

Canon in Hypodiapason (at the Octave) –Bernard Lagacé (1961 Beckerath/Immaculate Conception Church, Montreal) Analekta 2CD-3066/7

Canon in Hypodiatessaron (in contrary motion with augmentation) –Wolfgang Rübsam (1969 Metzler/St. Nicholas Church, Frauenfeld, Switzerland) PHS 16CD-438170

Contrapunctus XIV (on 4 themes), fr Art of Fugue, S. 1080, completed by Michael Ferguson (1983 Schantz/Lumen Christi Catholic Church, St. Paul, MN) Birolius Editions 1001/2

Chorale-prelude, Vor Deinen Thron tret ich, S. 668Walter Kraft (1782 Stumm/Amorbach Abbey, Germany) Musical Concepts 191


Michael Ferguson’s completion of Bach’s unfinished Contrapunctus XIV is published and available.

About the program title: in France, the term ‘to make a fugue’ means ‘to take a trip away from where one usually lives, to run away’. Try asking a multi-lingual computer to translate L’Art de la Fugue and you could be led to a bed-and-breakfast, or something quite other, too. J In any event, listening to this magnum opus by Herr 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 multiple performers have added their personal views to the ongoing discourse.

Some years ago (2000), we devoted two previous broadcasts to The Art of Fugue, and while much of the commentary there will be replicated in this new program, the performances and instruments, there and here, differ almost entirely.

We invite you to explore our online resource which provides a thorough explanation of the background and substance to Bach’s remarkable creation, The Art of Fugue, with links to the composer’s manuscript, the original published score, and a more recent publication.

And if you are curious about the unfinished Contrapunctus XIV, check out these options:
Lionel Rogg, playing the incomplete original
Helmut Walcha, performing his completion