Filippo Gorini The Art of Fugue

“There is no doubt: a star has risen, perhaps of the brightest kind”

The Art of Fugue.Two hours of Bach’s mathematical genius revealed in an extraordinary performance by Filippo Gorini streamed live from the Molle Antoniana in Turin the tallest museum in the world.It is a major landmark in  Turin and takes its name from its architect,Alessandro Antonelli.Construction began in 1863 and was completed in 1889, after the architect’s death and it was originally conceived of as a synagogue but it now houses the National Museum of Cinema. 

With help from the Borletti Buitoni Trust this young musician mentored by Alfred Brendel and Mitsuko Uchida has tried to unravel,during this long lockdown period,the mysterious last masterpiece of Bach.Left unfinished Bach threw down the gauntlet at the 14th fugue as he left the world for good.

Written in the last decade of his life,The Art of Fugue is the culmination of Bach’s experimentation with monothematic instrumental works.It consists of 14 fugues and four canons in D minor, each using some variation of a single principal subject, and generally ordered to increase in complexity.It is an exploration in depth of the contrapuntal possibilities inherent in a single musical subject.

A handwritten manuscript of the piece known as the Unfinished Fugue is among the three bundled with the autograph manuscript. It breaks off abruptly in the middle of its third section, with an only partially written measure 239. This autograph carries a note in the handwriting of  Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel, stating “Über dieser Fuge, wo der Name B A C H im Contrasubject angebracht worden, ist der Verfasser gestorben.” “At the point where the composer introduces the name BACH [for which the English notation would be B♭–A–C–B♮] in the countersubject to this fugue, the composer died.”

The abruptness and the aching minutes of silence as time was frozen was most moving.In this enormous building with a Bechstein piano sitting in its midst and a young man playing for almost two hours the most complicated music immaginable without a score and then suddenly stopping.I was reminded of Tatyana Nikolaeva playing it for us at the Teatro Ghione in Rome thirty years ago and insisting that not only the stage but also the auditiorium should be illuminated as much as possible.Licht, licht she implored.Today in this vast space I can understand the fact that the universality of The Art of Fugue cannot be contained in a restricted space.

The Genius of Bach indeed revealed by this young musician not only in his playing but in his nobly informed introduction

“There is no doubt: a star has risen, perhaps of the brightest kind” ★★★★★, Diapason D’Or Patrick Sznersovicz, Diapason…


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