Bach's last unfinished composition "The Art of Fugue" is a masterwork of the highest degree. This work is a multi-movement composition based on a single theme. In this masterpiece, Bach perfected the fugue as a genre and exhausted all possibilities that this theme can offer. Although the composer never wrote a treatise on the fugue, this cycle serves as a textbook for creating fugues. In fact, many theorists who lived after Bach based their treatises precisely on this masterpiece.
I think you will enjoy watching the opening clip from a documentary about Bach's The Art of Fugue, filmed in Arizona, Tennessee and Leipzig, Germany. In this video, the ultimate Bach scholar Christoph Wolff introduces this composition and in the background you will hear the leading Bach performer George Ritchie‘s interpretation of the Contrapunctus I on the Richards, Fowkes & Co. organ, Op. 14, completed in 2006 at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Scottsdale, Arizona.
It is amazing to hear with how much calmness and tranquility G.Ritchie performs this Contrapuntus. After listening to this piece, I thought that the incredible vocal quality of the Principal 8 on this organ was simply astonishing.
This documentary is part of the package of 2 CDs and a 3¼-hour DVD entitled „Bach Art of Fugue“. The DVD contains two films about J. S. Bach:
1) In 90 minutes, "Desert Fugue" features a leading Bach scholar Christoph Wolff discussing Bach's ultimate intellectual and musical creation, The Art of Fugue.
As well, "Desert Fugue" includes George Ritchie's comments on the work and an interview with American organbuilders Ralph Richards and Bruce Fowkes regarding their Opus 14 built in the style of organs played by Bach for most of his career in and near central Germany (with emphasis on Thuringian and Saxon builders Gottfried Silbermann, Zacharias Hildebrandt, and Gottfried Trost).
Briefly, the DVD compares the sound of a Dutch/North German organ with the very different, almost orchestral, sound of a central German organ of Bach's day.
2) George Ritchie lectures on Bach's compositional techniques used in the Art of Fugue, with musical demonstrations. He discusses the entire work and each of the 14 contrapuncti in an hour and 51 minutes.
The two CDs contain:
1) George Ritchie's performance of the entire Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, on the Richards, Fowkes & Co. organ, Op. 14, completed in 2006 at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Scottsdale, Arizona, and built in the style known to Bach in his central German homeland.
2) George Ritchie's performance of Contrapunctus 14, Fuga a 3 Soggetti, as completed by Helmut Walcha
3) The CDs also contain George Ritchie's performances of other late works of Bach: Ricercar a 6 from the Musical Offering, BWV 1079, played on the Bedient organ at Cornerstone Church, Lincoln, Nebraska. Vor deinen Thron tret' ich hiermit BWV 668 and Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch, BWV 769a, played on the Taylor & Boody organ at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Mass.; 6 Schübler Chorales played on the Brombaugh organ at Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tenn.
A booklet of this DVD/CD set "Bach Art of Fugue“ includes stoplists, organ photos, registrations, definitions of musical terms, notes on the all of the works, and other useful information.
After watching these two films, I felt I was transported to the immortal world of J.S.Bach and wished that this feeling never end.
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