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Cuarteto Casals|J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue

J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue

Cuarteto Casals

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The German poet Goethe said, and is duly quoted in the booklet here, that a string quartet is "a spirited conversation among four reasonable people." That is not what Bach's Art of Fugue is, but string quartets seem impelled to keep performing the work, and audiences buy the move; the rarefied air of the string quartet seems to fit with Bach's contrapuntal mysteries somehow. This release by the Cuarteto Casals made classical best-seller charts in the late spring of 2023. It is one of the better string quartet attempts, both hewing to and departing from the work's Baroque character. First violinist Abel Tomás Realp mostly cultivates a glassy sound with little vibrato, as if his line were being played on an organ, but the other players allow themselves to be more expressive. The general approach is deliberate, and the members speak at length in the interview-style booklet about the necessity for deep contemplation in approaching the work. It is almost as if the group is seeking to clarify its contrapuntal intricacies. The music broadens out in the four canons, which are placed at the end right before the final fugue. That is given a little conclusion rather than being left hanging, as in Bach's unfinished manuscript, and it leads into the chorale Vor deinen Thron tret' ich, BWV 668, which Bach himself might have intended. The sound from Spain's Cardona monastery fits with the goals of the performance, which is to add a new layer of mystery to this perennially troublesome work.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue

Cuarteto Casals

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1
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus I, a 4
00:03:02

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

2
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus II, a 4
00:02:52

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

3
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus III, a 4
00:02:29

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

4
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus IV, a 4
00:03:05

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

5
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus V, a 4
00:02:40

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

6
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus VI, a 4 in stilo francese
00:03:26

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

7
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus VII, a 4 per augmentationem et diminutionem
00:03:25

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

8
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus VIII, a 3
00:05:21

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

9
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus IX, a 4 alla duodecima
00:02:20

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

10
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus X, a 4 alla decima
00:03:21

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

11
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus XI, a 4
00:05:15

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

12
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus XII, a 4
00:02:02

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

13
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus XIII, a 3
00:02:11

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

14
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Canon per augmentationem in contrario motu
00:04:43

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

15
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Canon alla ottava
00:02:25

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

16
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Canon alla decima in contrapunto alla terza
00:04:24

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

17
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Canon alla duodecima in contrapunto alla quinta
00:02:25

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

18
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus XIV, a 4 Fuga a tre soggetti
00:09:17

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

19
18 Chorale Preludes, BWV 651-668: Vor deinen Thron tret' ich, BWV 668
00:03:32

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Cuarteto Casals, MainArtist, ChamberMusicEnsemble

2023 harmonia mundi 2023 harmonia mundi

Chronique

The German poet Goethe said, and is duly quoted in the booklet here, that a string quartet is "a spirited conversation among four reasonable people." That is not what Bach's Art of Fugue is, but string quartets seem impelled to keep performing the work, and audiences buy the move; the rarefied air of the string quartet seems to fit with Bach's contrapuntal mysteries somehow. This release by the Cuarteto Casals made classical best-seller charts in the late spring of 2023. It is one of the better string quartet attempts, both hewing to and departing from the work's Baroque character. First violinist Abel Tomás Realp mostly cultivates a glassy sound with little vibrato, as if his line were being played on an organ, but the other players allow themselves to be more expressive. The general approach is deliberate, and the members speak at length in the interview-style booklet about the necessity for deep contemplation in approaching the work. It is almost as if the group is seeking to clarify its contrapuntal intricacies. The music broadens out in the four canons, which are placed at the end right before the final fugue. That is given a little conclusion rather than being left hanging, as in Bach's unfinished manuscript, and it leads into the chorale Vor deinen Thron tret' ich, BWV 668, which Bach himself might have intended. The sound from Spain's Cardona monastery fits with the goals of the performance, which is to add a new layer of mystery to this perennially troublesome work.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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