J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

The Art of Fugue / Die Kunst der Fuge

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Robert Hill
Soloists:Robert Hill
Michael Behringer (in mirror fugues)
Individual Works:The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Hänssler (edition bachakademie)
Catalog Number:92.134
Year Released/Recorded:1998
Total Playing Time:47.13, 56.51
Comments:Joseph Fouse said:

This is an outstanding recording, both for the interpretation itself and for its inclusiveness. Those familiar with Kenneth Gilbert's earlier recording on Archiv will know that Bach revised this piece throughout the 1740s, but Gilbert recorded only the earlier versions of some movements (e.g. Contrapuncti 1-3, the canon by augmentation and contrary motion). Hill's recording, however, generously gives these alternative versions in an appendix, as well as providing both the 3-part version of Contrapunctus 13 and the expansion "a 2 Claviere."

As for the performance itself, Hill plays on an Italian-style harpsichord, with no changes of registration. Although one might quibble with his justifications for this decision-- something to do with Frescobaldi, which seems a bit tenuous, since it takes as a given that this is harpsichord music, nevermind Buxtehude's "mirror" contrapuncti, but no matter-- the results are hard to knock. Judicious ornamentation keeps monotony at bay. Excellent recording quality-- a comparison with Moroney's recording, my earlier favorite, shows how much that recording has dated in terms of sound. On the whole, Hill's is perhaps the best "reference" recording now available. A keeper.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Joseph Fouse
Date First Submitted:10/24/2002