Thursday, January 7, 2010
Art of the Fugue - Brass Version
(Pittsburgh Symphony Brass)
This is really something. TAOTF really is a tough piece to get into. Most performers treat it with kid gloves, as though it's purely schematic music with no real reason for interest except academic ones. Two years ago I heard Pierre Laurent Aimard play it exactly like that, and I've never seen an audience so excited to hear Elliott Carter...
I've had the sneaking suspicion since I had to make a study of it in college that TAOTF only really works on the organ. Rhythmically, the piece is often flat as day-old matzoh. There's simply no way to shape it without an enormous dynamic range. Perhaps this is also why a brass quintet works so well for it. Not only does the piece get enormous dynamic range, but the bass line can have octave doublings at the climaxes.
One day there will be an enormous post of Art of the Fugue, not tonight though.