Donald Satz wrote (July 15, 1999):
Rinaldo Alessandrini appears to the the newest great dirctor of early and Baroque music. His recordings uniformly receive superlative reviews, particularly in Monteverdi. Hot off the assembly line is a new recording of Bach's Art of Fugue on Opus 111.
This is a "chamber" version with flute, oboes, and bassoon contributing in addition to the stringed instruments. That makes it one of the more instrumentally varied versions of the work.
Alessandrini is noted for placing his individual stamp on every recording. For the Art of Fugue, his interpretation is more "festive" than any other performance I've heard. I'm not sure that's a good way to go, since the work is about as serious as you can get. However, Alesandrini does it beautifully, and his Concerto Italiano plays expertly under his direction.
There have been many new recordings of the Art of Fugue in the past three years or so, and I haven't found any of them to be inadequate. They're on piano, harpsichord, string quartet, recorders, and chamber w/brass and/or wind instruments. Personally, I tend to prefer the work on piano or harpsichord, but the multiple instrument approach is very rewarding and provides some variety for the listener.
In terms of instrumental variety, I liken to Alessandrini to Savall on Astree. That issue is a more somber interpretation which I do prefer.
Overall, if you are looking for a more festive Art of Fugue than you are accustomed to, the Alessandrini will fill the need perfectly. I'm pleased to have this version, although it is not one of my favorites. For me, it's an excellent supplement to Nikolayeva, Aldwell, Gilbert, and one or two others.