A new recording from violinist Rachel Podger is always worth attention. And before you even get to appreciating the first-class performances - faithful realizations of Bach’s Art of Fugue skillfully arranged for strings - you notice the immediate, vibrant presence of the instruments. The sound is stunning, reminiscent of the early days of digital recording, when listeners used to marvel at how realistic the sound was. Channel Classics has been doing this forever; we just may have forgotten how special it is when it’s done right.
2CD set "The Art of Fugue" is the long-anticipated 4th volume in Richard Troeger's ground breaking, world premiere series of Bach performed on the clavichord, exclusively from the Lyrichord Early Music Series. This edition features the complete Art of the Fugue, along with stunning violin transcriptions, and fantasias, including the thrilling "Chromatic Fantasia" and "Fugue." The first three volumes garnered raves reviews both here and abroad.
The art of transcription - of recasting music, more or less literally, from one performance medium into another - has been a common practice for a long time. A good transcription (or a paraphrase) tests the abilities and the imagination of the transcriber as much as the creation of an original composition. Trying to maintain the distinct characteristics of a given work, while meeting the demands of a new medium, are not always easily achieved. But in a world where the pursuit of stylistic authenticity has become the performance ideal, transcriptions and paraphrases have often been frowned upon by purists as tamperings or sacrilegious alterations with the purity of the composer’s original.