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Die Kunst der Fuge

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Title : Die Kunst der Fuge
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Die Kunst der Fuge

I've enjoyed quite a few performances by the Netherlands Bach Society and just the other day they posted a really interesting one. We all know that the Art of Fugue by Bach was written for, uh, harpsichord? Clavichord? Organ? Actually, not! There is no instrumentation specified! From the notes to the new recording:

Bach’s Kunst der Fuge is shrouded in mystery. We don’t know which instrument it was written for and whether Bach intended the music as material for practice or performance. The order of the 18 sections is unclear as well and we don’t know whether the piece was ever completed.

As it is not clear which instrument Bach had in mind, Shunske Sato made his own instrumentation for the Netherlands Bach Society. “I wanted to bring out the many colours of the work and of my ensemble. Every fugue has its own character. On the basis of the rhythm, time and chromatic lines, etc., you can determine which instrument is most suitable. I’ve studied each part very carefully, in order to decide which instruments are best to use. I wanted the whole Netherlands Bach Society to be heard, so the singers are taking part as well. They sing without words, to vowel sounds.”

I'm just listening to it for the first time now. The first fugue is performed by solo voices, the second by viols, the third by winds and I look forward to seeing how the rest have been instrumented.


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