(...) this new realisation is at the purist end – just four string players with the occasional (and often inaudible) harpsichord. No case is made in the notes for this approach, yet with playing of this sophistication, the restricted sound palette works wonderfully, supporting a calm, ruminative exploration of the many fugal devices. (...)
Podger is not going for monumental but rather the kind of pleasure to be found in following individual instruments with their identifiable textures creating lines weaving in and about each other building the fugue. With Bach this pleasure can grow into something else if we give it a chance, as Butt [the liner notes are written by John Butt], suggests. If you're a Podger fan—and who isn't?—go for it.
Het is wonderlijk hoe harmonieus de muzikale abstractie van Bachs laatste werk zich in deze uitvoering vertaalt naar en verhoudt tot de expressieve exploratie van Podger en Brecon Baroque. (...)Wat eveneens een belangrijke rol speelt is de opnamekwaliteit, want die geeft ons wel of niet voldoende toegang tot dit grote werk. Channel Classics heeft een strikt heldere maar gelukkig tevens warme opname afgeleverd. De nagalm is precies goed. Kortom, we mogen ons met deze nieuwe uitgave zonder restrictie gelukkig prijzen.
The sound is stunning, reminiscent of the early days of digital recording, when listeners used to marvel at how realistic the sound was. Channel Classics has been doing this forever; we just may have forgotten how special it is when it’s done right. (...) The choice of instrumentation here makes perfect sense, the delineation of lines, the clarity of texture, and even the expressive aspects of each player’s performance defines an approach to the work that is at once practical and musically captivating.
Rachel Podger and her colleagues are justly celebrated as exceptional artists in the period performance field and they deliver wonderfully expressive performances of each of the eighteen fugues and canons that make up Bach's astonishing work with a technical finesse that is beyond reproach. (...) Scholarly and thought provoking notes by John Butt complete a most desirable issue.
"For her latest release on Channel Classics, Rachel Podger turns to Bach's late masterpiece 'The Art of Fugue'. She is joined in this enterprise by the four key members of her expert period ensemble Brecon Baroque: the violinist Johannes Pramsohler (who also plays second viola), Jane Rogers (viola), Allison McGillivray (cello) and Marcin ?wi?tkiewicz (harpsichord).
Rachel Podger and her colleagues are justly celebrated as exceptional artists in the period performance field and they deliver wonderfully expressive performances of each of the eighteen fugues and canons that make up Bach's astonishing work with a technical finesse that is beyond reproach. The varied combinations of string instruments used here add spice and variety to each of the pieces. There is a rich mellownness to the string sounds and throughout the players ensure that every line is clearly defined so one can follow even the most complex strands with ease. Special praise is due to Marcin ?wi?tkiewicz for the fluent and thoughtful playing of his two alloted solos, the Canon alla Duodecima (tr.13) and Canon alla Decima (tr.15). The final fugue (Contrapunctus14) is performed unfinished, as Bach left it, a poignant reminder of the transience of life.
It need hardly be stated that Jared Sacks's multi-channel DSD recording is, as always, state-of-the-art, capturing the warm acoustic of London's Church of Saint Jude-on-the- Hill to perfection and giving the instruments an almost holographic vividness set within a realistic sound stage.
Performance and Multichannel Sonic Quality: 5 of 5 Stars"