Bach: The Art of Fugue

‘The Art of Fugue shows how Bach lived and breathed canon and fugue: not just as structural or directional devices but also as a philosophy, language and ‘sounding mathematics.’ Bach’s last work displays music of formidable control and complexity; but for all its technical wizardry, there’s depth and wisdom, and luminous serenity.’

MacGregor’s Art of Fugue is warm and welcoming, her gentler touch in the opening Contrapunctus 1 promising a more involving ride from the outset. This is carried through in the playing further on, with Contrapunctus 3 as an example, presenting the lines of counterpoint with well defined character and lyricism at the same time.  MacGregor can be more playful as well; her swifter Contrapunctus 4 is full of uplifting little touches of articulation – a delightful cascade of notes rather than an avalanche. Her sense of shape in each piece is very nicely done, and taken with an uncomplicated logic which guides the listener through Bach’s most mind-mangling of technical labyrinths. The contrasts between each piece also keep the ear alert, and help prevent intellectual overload. I wouldn’t want to be without this…. the piece is turned into something timeless and monumental, as Sviatoslav Richter did with some of his Bach Preludes and Fugues.

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