J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Art of Fugue

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Soloists:Frank Daykin and Millette Alexander, piano duo
Individual Works:The complete Art of the Fugue BWV 1080
(1937 two piano transcription by Erich Schwebsch after Wolfgang Gräser).)
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Connoisseur Society
Catalog Number:CD 4203
Year Released/Recorded:1994
Total Playing Time:disc 1: 44:20
disc 2: 44:50
Comments:Frank Daykin said:

American Record Guide's Critics' Choice Award for one of the 10 best new releases of 1996.

Jan Hanford said:

A stunningly beautiful performance.

The Art of Fugue has been recorded in many configurations, from harpsichord to string quartet. There are few piano versions available and I was particularly happy to discover this one. Although it is one of Bach's most intellectual works, it can be profoundly beautiful. This performance by Alexander and Daykin is the best I've heard on a keyboard instrument. I was deeply moved by the music in ways I have not experienced with other performances.

What struck me most about this performance was its gentleness. So many piano recordings crash and pound, in concerts the piano literally shakes back and forth. Alexander and Daykin play with sensitivity and clarity. Their tempos are not rushed, they are intelligent and delightfully musical. Their powerful passages do not pound, they sing the passion of the music. Their long-time professional partnership creates a precision performance. The two pianos are nicely split in stereo and the melodies travel back and forth, merge and blend in delightful ways. The unfinished fugue is left unfinished, which I find one of the most moving aspects of this work.

An extraordinary performance and a favored treasure in my collection.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Frank Daykin
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:03/01/1999