'Some readers may already have their minds made up: there are no gains and only losses in amplifying late Beethoven. I urge them to listen to this...the unanimity of the ACO lends Tognetti’s direction the same agility and unstoppable momentum as a solo-quartet version. It’s a formidable achievement.' – Gramophone Magazine
'This album covers the gamut of expressive musical possibilities – from extreme anguish and despair to heart-aching simplicity, from intellectual rigour and pure consonance to shattering dissonance. It is everything.' – Richard Tognetti
Hot on the heels of their ARIA-nominated recording of Mozart’s Last Symphonies, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Richard Tognetti showcase two works of genius by Beethoven and Bach. Recorded live in concert, these seminal works are given a new lease of life, opening up new soundworlds through the vitality and virtuosity for which the ACO has become globally renowned.
Both Bach and Beethoven wrote these pieces towards the end of their lives. Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge was originally conceived as the final movement to his last string quartet; in it, the genre moves away from salon music into what Tognetti describes as 'hyper-controlled cacophony, rousing responses ranging from rapture to despair'. This was too much for Beethoven’s contemporaries, and the quartet was soon given a more orthodox ending. In this album the Grosse Fuge is returned to its original place, and is presented in an arrangement for string orchestra by Tognetti which, in his words, is 'careful not to exploit the greater dynamic capabilities at the expense of the innerlich heart of Beethoven’s uniquely powerful music'.
Bach’s The Art of Fugue was left unfinished at his death, and is a work shrouded in mystery: it is unclear for what instrument it was originally written. A masterclass in the fugue – a form in which a single musical theme repeats and weaves around itself – the first four movements are presented here using strings, winds and even the voices of the orchestra to bring out the polyphonal parts which, in Bach’s hands, speak as one.
Critical acclaim for the concerts at which this album was recorded include praise for the ACO’s 'uncanny blend of muscularity and airiness' (The Daily Telegraph) and 'restless dynamism' (Sydney Morning Herald).
> Stream full album on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6VVRA47XhZLzzmCAF5OfdJ?si=oDkptVlpS-qphnlMGd0OEg
> Download the digital booklet: https://www.aco.com.au/-/media/aco-bach-beethoven-fugue-booklet.pdf
> Stream and buy the album: https://snd.click/BBFugue?pid=T85IXgjcZOPj
1–4. JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH The Art of Fugue, BWV1080: Contrapunctus I–IV [11'35]
5–9. LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (arr. RICHARD TOGNETTI) String Quartet in B-flat major, Op.130 [33'11]
10. LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (arr. RICHARD TOGNETTI) Grosse Fuge in B-flat major, Op.133 [16'23]
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Richard Tognetti Director and Violin
Release date: 7 April 2017
Label: ABC Classic
Catalogue number: 481 4960