Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/public/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/public/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/public/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/public/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Dependencies in /home/public/wp-includes/class.wp-dependencies.php on line 31

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Http in /home/public/wp-includes/http.php on line 61
Die Kunst der Fuge › Delmé Quartet
Skip to content

Delmé Quartet

Hypérion 2000; recorded November 1999
Menu: printed score without Chorale and the four Canons;
+ a completed version of the last fugue.
Total Time: 74:29

A recording in best string quartet tradition, just a few degrees nearer to the hip-approach.

Throughout sensitive chamber playing, tender in slow movements (Cp. 3, 10, 5!), sure in speedy parts (Cp. 9), alerted in the mirror fugues (Fuga a 2 Clav. incl. the additional 4th part), and in some rare and precious moments enriched with a modestly dosed portion of vibrato, e.g. in Cp. 6, and in the first theme of the last fugue.

Here we have a version completed by Donald Francis Tovey in 1931. For listeners who are used to the legendary interruptus, it is always hard to follow the thread beyond the critical point; maybe this result is not as convincing as the commentary wants to make us believe. But respecting the original, the record also supplies the unfinished version, and so we are free to make our own choice by programming our CD player.

Mostly dominated by the first violin (superb: Galina Solodchin), the cello could have more weight. Maybe that’s another reason why (at least to a pair of ears that is used to listen to manymany DKdF recordings) this one sounds audibly higher - and in fact it is.

The arranger of this version, Robert Simpson, transposed the whole opus from d- into g-minor, so that it can be played by a string quartet with regularly tuned instruments and without shifting certain passages. As he points out, a project for quite practical reasons: in order to enlarge the repertoire of small, concert-opening string quartet pieces (”There is no need to play the whole Art of Fugue in one breath!” - well spoken.) But then he gives a bizarre reason why he didn’t include the Canons in his version: “…believing them to be trial runs for a possible Art Of Canon.” Though probably nobody else has ever heard of this plan, it would be interesting how such a Bach-work would look and sound like…

Informative booklet by Robert Simpson (complete booklet notes can be found here); a pity that the excellent instruments remain unnamed.

Recommendation: Yes! Ideal for String quartet lovers.

(May 2002)