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Die Kunst der Fugue BWV 1080

Joanna MacGregor (Piano)

MacGregor Tackles Bach

K-2

Counterpoint

J.S. Bach:
Die Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080 [82:30]

Conlon Nancarrow:
Three Canons for Ursula
Studies for Player Piano 3c, 6, 11

Joanna MacGregor (Piano)

Collins Classics

Nov-Dec 1995

2-CD / TT: 107:45

Recorded at St. Georges, Brandon Hill, Bristol, England.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

MacGregor Tackles Bach

Donald Satz wrote (July 18, 1999):
I've been obtaining quite a few Bach recordings, trying to fill in the gaps in my Bach collection. One such acquistion was Joanna MacGregor playing the Art of Fugue and a few Nancarrow pieces on a 2-CD Collins set.

I found MacGregor's Bach one of the best piano versions I ever heard. My benchmark for the work, the Contrapunctus 3, is played perfectly by MacGregor with superb emphasis/pacing throughout the piece. The other sections are interpreted every bit as well.

The coupling consists of three canons for Ursula and three studies for player piano by Nancarrow. Although this coupling might appear odd, it's logic is based on the significance to both composers of counterpoint and musical complexity. At this point, I have not developed a strong appreciation for Nancarrow, but I have many years to get there.

Any complaints? Not really. Recorded sound is fine; cover art is nothing special but McGregor is giving us a look that exudes pure confidence - I get the impression that she can handle anything coming her way, musical or otherwise. Thee are only 108 minutes of music on the 2 cd's, but the interpretation is just too good to pay that much attention.

Overall, McGregor is up there with Aldwell and Nikolayeva as providing the best piano versions of the Art of Fugue. If Aldwell and Nikolayeva are to your liking, McGregor should be a winner also. Gerardo, based on the preferences he has outlined, would be wise to stay away from all three recordings.

 

Feedback to the Review

Gerardo Constantini wrote (July 19, 1999):
Donald Satz wrote:
< Overall, McGregor is up there with Aldwell and Nikolayeva as providing the best piano versions of the Art of Fugue. If Aldwell and Nikolayeva are to your liking, McGregor should be a winner also. Gerardo, based on the preferences he has outlined, would be wise to stay away from all three recordings. >
Uhmmmm......About preferences,I like Nikolaieva, I always like "her" Bach.Anyway she coached my teacher Oxana Yablonskaya hen she was making her doctoral studies at Moscow Conservatory,and after Yablonskaya won Margherite Long, Beethoven (Vienna), and Rio de Janeiro competition she was her assistant for a while until she had her own appoinment. About Adwell, I really don't care. About Mc Gregor, I never listened her playing. About my preferences, you make a little mistake maybe. I like always "expressive" performances, but that term "expresive" as I conceive it, is as I said in Chopin related E-mail, means the neccesary amount of ........... to make understand what you want to say, no more, and no less.In other words the perfect amount of coherence and balance. Over intelectual performances, with little heart (like R. Serkin in my opinion), or over "expresive" performances (like Andre Watts Chopin) with little (or not) intelectuallity, are completely out of my taste. On the other hand I always demand for an intelectual basis, because I also was involved in composition. I studied composition in my country, and then at Rome, and I was very involved in all the compulsory old style discipline of contrapunctus, Harmony in the old strictily choral style, fugue, and all this context. For that reason I develop (as any composition serious student) a kind of 2nd nature, which make a fast comprehension of an approach of a work which is make by some interpreter. By the way one of the pianists who makes (for me) the perfect combination of all this ingredients, is Maurizio Pollini.Unfortunately I didn't listened yet "his" Bach performance. And maybe after it I can consider him the greatest pianist of this century.

Donald Satz wrote (July 19, 1999):
Gerardo was pointing out that I might not have a good handle on his taste in pianists. I'm sure he is correct. The comment I made that Gerardo should stay away from Nikolayeva, McGregor, and Aldwell, was just "tongue in cheek" and based loosely on his lack of preference for Aldwell performing Bach.

But, all is not lost. Gerardo indicated a strong liking for Poillini, and I'm of the same mind. All this goes to show is that if you wait long enough and communicate, one will find common ground with every other list member.

Die Kunst der Fugue BWV 1080: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001
Discussions:
General Discussions – Part 1 | MD: The Art of Fugue
Reviews:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | AOF - Aldwell | AOF - Alessandrini | AOF - Delft | AOF - MacGregor | AOF - Phantasm | AOF - Scherchen | AOF - Taussig
Articles:
The Art of Fugue: Expanding the Limits! [E. Demeyere]

Joanna MacGregor: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
MacGregor Tackles Bach

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Last update: żOctober 10, 2006 ż02:30:14