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Probably no single work by Johann Sebastian Bach is surrounded with such an aura of mystery and secrecy as The Art of Fugue.
The legends that attend it have certainly not prevented direct access to the monumental cycle of fugues, but they have palpably hampered any appreciation free of the prejudice concerning Bach’s artistic calibre. The mass of peripheral literature stretching across the generations has become almost impenetrable, making it difficult even for specialists to separate the grain of serious research – scientifically based and verifiable – from the over-abundant chaff of erroneous speculation.
Léon Berben presents a deeply personal interpretation of this masterwork. For him, Bach’s The Art of Fugue is not simply a theoretical or mathematical exercise, but is living music, replete with all the emotions and affects that musical rhetoric can deliver. His choice of instrument was not left to chance: the 1744 Wagner organ in Angermünde, with its characteristic voices and
precise acoustic, allows for a distinct presentation of the counterpoint. Berben’s interpretation is characterised by the rigour of his textual reading (for example, his respect for original tempo indications) and his vivacious playing – without doubt a new benchmark in the recording history of the piece.