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The Art of Fugue

An installation
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

The Art of Fugue is regarded by many as a work to be studied rather than performed. This concert version presents it as a staged musical drama of the highest intensity. Using an interplay of optical and acoustical elements, the musical dramaturgy of the piece unfolds in dimensions similar to the impossible architectural designs of M.C. Escher, succeeding in creating an almost mystical magnetism that draws the listener into the fascinating tonal structures of the music.

Stephan Mai is responsible for the instrumentation and succeeded in crystallizing an orchestral version of the piece for the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. He divided the orchestra into three groups: a string quartet as a core and sonic focal point, a tutti string ensemble, and a wind quartet, all of which are complemented by the organ or harpsichord.

The voicing for each counterpoint is realized as uniquely as the two or three part fugues were originally composed: for example, in a duet for violin and cello that is also joined by the viola in a trio, or as a trio performed on solo harpsichord, as well as a trio for oboe, oboe da caccia, and bassoon.

On stage each section is individually located, creating the effect of the entire area being 'played'. This is intensified through stage lighting, which focuses on the particular group performing. As one group begins, the lighting for the other groups is dimmed, creating a wandering effect that succeeds in focusing the listener’s attention from one group to another and makes the tonal structure of the piece visual. In this condensed atmosphere, the controlled immersion into the context of the music gives the listener an engaging and unparalleled chance to experience the Art of the Fugue in its deepest forms.

A Production by Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in co-production with Uhde & Harckensee MusikManagement and RADIALSYSTEM V Berlin.
Orchesterfassung Stephan Mai
Stephan Mai, Bernhard Forck
Folkert Uhde / Daniel Brandstäter

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Johann Sebastian Bach:
The Art of Fugue

An installation
Film by Uli Aumüller - inpetto Filmproduktion
Arthaus Musik 2009

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The Art of Fugue RADIALSYSTEM V Nov 2007
inpetto Filmproduktion

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Kirsten Junglas
+49 (0)30 695 66 07 13
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