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Art of Fugue in the Desert


davidh
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Following their very successful multimedia pack about organs in the Groningen area, Fugue State Films

http://www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk/projects.html

have just completed three new projects, "The Elusive English Organ" and "Virtuoso Music", twentieth century music from Bridlington Priory, which I haven't seen yet, and "The Art of Fugue / Desert Fugue" which I received a few days ago.

 

George Ritchie and Christopher Wolff discuss the Art of Fugue, followed by a discussion with two organ builders about the sort of organ best suited for the music, which, they conclude, to their satisfaction (and I am ready to be convinced) is an organ of the kind which they built for the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in the desert town of Scottsdale, Arizona. George Ritchie speaks of how he was a student of Walcha. He had prepared a chorale prelude in four voices, and Walcha told him to omit the soprano line, to play the alto and bass lines, while singing the tenor line.

 

It's therefore not surprising that on the two accompanying CDs he plays the 14th Fugue in its incomplete version and then plays it again with Walcha's completion. Christopher Wolff argues that the Fugue was not incomplete - when composing a fugue with four subjects, and two of them inverted in the final section, he could only have done it by working out the closing section first, so it was not "unfinished" but rather the finish was written first and got lost before publication.

 

The DVD ends with a demonstration and explanation of each of the contrapuncti, in total nearly two hours. Any talk like this has to face the question of what level it should be aimed at. It's my guess that the readers of this forum will not have any difficulty following it, and may perhaps learn a thing or two. My only criticism is that when a few bars of music are shown on the screen and attention is drawn to one bar, the bar numbers displayed often begin AFTER the barline at the end of the bar and continue under the next bar. It's very off-putting until you realise that it is the way that it has been done.

 

The Art of Fugue is a problem for any recording studio, as it won't fit onto a single CD, but would be very sparse on its own if spread over two CDs. We therefore get, as well, several chorale preludes, some canons and the Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch. The accompanying booklet gives all of the registrations used for the Art of Fugue, but not for the extras.

 

Very good value at the introductory price of £24.99 (and I didn't get any commission for writing this review).

 

David Hitchin

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Following their very successful multimedia pack about organs in the Groningen area, Fugue State Films

http://www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk/projects.html

have just completed three new projects, "The Elusive English Organ" and "Virtuoso Music", twentieth century music from Bridlington Priory, which I haven't seen yet, and "The Art of Fugue / Desert Fugue" which I received a few days ago.

 

George Ritchie and Christopher Wolff discuss the Art of Fugue, followed by a discussion with two organ builders about the sort of organ best suited for the music, which, they conclude, to their satisfaction (and I am ready to be convinced) is an organ of the kind which they built for the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in the desert town of Scottsdale, Arizona. George Ritchie speaks of how he was a student of Walcha. He had prepared a chorale prelude in four voices, and Walcha told him to omit the soprano line, to play the alto and bass lines, while singing the tenor line.

 

It's therefore not surprising that on the two accompanying CDs he plays the 14th Fugue in its incomplete version and then plays it again with Walcha's completion. Christopher Wolff argues that the Fugue was not incomplete - when composing a fugue with four subjects, and two of them inverted in the final section, he could only have done it by working out the closing section first, so it was not "unfinished" but rather the finish was written first and got lost before publication.

 

The DVD ends with a demonstration and explanation of each of the contrapuncti, in total nearly two hours. Any talk like this has to face the question of what level it should be aimed at. It's my guess that the readers of this forum will not have any difficulty following it, and may perhaps learn a thing or two. My only criticism is that when a few bars of music are shown on the screen and attention is drawn to one bar, the bar numbers displayed often begin AFTER the closing bar and continue under the next bar. It's very off-putting until you realise that it is the way that it has been done.

 

The Art of Fugue is a problem for any recording studio, as it won't fit onto a single CD, but would be very sparse on its own if spread over two CDs. We therefore get, as well, several chorale preludes, some canons and the Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch. The accompanying booklet gives all of the registrations used for the Art of Fugue, but not for the extras.

 

Very good value at the introductory price of £24.99 (and I didn't get any commission for writing this review).

 

David Hitchin

 

 

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I think I would prefer to watch a DVD about Merekats. :lol:

 

MM

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I too greatly enjoyed Desert Fugue.

 

I have also enjoyed the music on The Elusive English Organ CD (rather curiously all played on organs about 50 years too young, from memory) - but haven't watched the DVD yet.

 

Paul

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