J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Art of Fugue

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Hermann Scherchen
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Orchestre de la R.T.S.I. (Lugano)
Soloists:clavecin: Luciano Sgrizzi
Individual Works:Art of Fugue, BWV 1080
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:ACCORD
Catalog Number:200412
Year Released/Recorded:1965
Total Playing Time:1 hr 44'
Comments:Pedro Mendonta said:

Very beautiful and moving interpretation. Orchestration also reveals deep understanding of the music. Excellent recording & transfers.

John Stone said:

This is the worst rendering of Art of Fugue I've ever heard. The instrumental doublings are more in keeping with a Beethoven orchestra, and the overall Romantic (even bathetic) aesthetic has nothing to do with promoting the internal architecture of the music; instead, it obscures the textual clarity with the thick mass of sound, going for overall effect rather than clarity or distinctiveness of voices. The climaxes of the fugues are incredibly portentious; the whole project is clearly a product of its time. That said, we can be grateful to Scherchen for his labors (for it was a labor of love, despite the heavy handed results), because his version introduced large audiences to the Art of Fugue, which had hitherto been more or less ignored by the average classical music afficianado. The music is so well-structured, it can survive almost any rendering on any instrumental combinations imaginable (hence my affection for the chamber orchestral versions by Heribert Breuer and Max Pommer, to name two of the best); however, Scherchen has inflated the work to the hysterical proportions of Busonni's transciptions, and it expires in the process. In brief: this recording is heartily not recommended, except for historical interest, whatever that may be in this case.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Pedro Mendonta
  • John Stone
Date First Submitted:02/14/1997