a curious idea! In a recording of Bach's Art
of Fugue are interspersed bits and pieces of works by the
contemporary Hungarian composer Gyorgy
Kurtag. It is not as if we get the
entire Art of Fugue.
The performance is bits of this and bits of that. "This
concept may seem strange at first glance, not least because
it places works by the most disparate of composers not just
side by side but weaves them together." Strange indeed, and, in my opinion, a total failure.
interposition of the two radically different types of music
is far too jarring to be of interest. And, unfortunately, the
only way to listen to all of one or all of the other is to skip
tracks; the DVD offers no possibility (which would, in fact
have been simple) of listening to only the Bach or only the
is the Bach that will attract purchasers to this DVD, however,
not only for the Art of Fugue, but also for the performance
of two cello suites by Anner Bylsma. As for the Keller’s Bach, it is very indecisive. The
first movement they play makes the Art
of Fugue sound like Schubert; the second like Mozart; the
third like Beethoven, and on to Haydn and even Bartók (the final
fugue), with only the occasional section that really sounds
like Bach. Contrapunctus 4 is the
best example of how the Keller can play this work with authority
- their counterpoint is exemplary in this movement. But they
do not maintain any semblance of an overall vision of the work.
It ends up sounding like little more than a collection of diverse
movements in different styles.
to Anner Bylsma's performance of two
cello suites (the first and fifth), this is nothing short of
sublime. Bylsma is indeed one of the foremost performers of these works,
and here, playing on the Stradivarius "Servais",
which he used for his second recording of these works, he shines.
The sound is excellent (though a bit muddy at times, in some
of the faster sections), and Bylsma, sober and concentrated as ever, gives a riveting performance.
If only the four other suites had been filmed
two parts of the DVD are different programs, so viewers can
choose to watch either the Art of Fugue (with the bonus features by
Kurtag) or the Cello Suites. In my
opinion, this DVD is more than worth its cost for the latter,
as anyone who is familiar with Bylsma's recordings and performances of these suites will
certainly appreciate. While the Art
of Fugue is disappointing, and the Kurtag
out of place, Bylsma shines as he
does in all his other recordings of these Suites.