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Die Kunst der Fuge, Johann Sebastian Bach
(The Art of the Fugue)
Walter Riemer, Fortepiano
JDT3376

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Piece Samples

CD 1

1. Contrapunctus 1
2. Contrapunctus 2
3. Contrapunctus 3
4. Contrapunctus 4
5. Contrapunctus 5
6. Contrapunctus 6
7. Contrapunctus 7
8. Contrapunctus 8
9. Contrapunctus 9
10. Contrapunctus 10
11. Contrapunctus 11

CD 2

1. Contrapunctus 12 rectus
2. Contrapunctus 12 inversus
3. Contrapunctus 13 rectus
4. Contrapunctus 13 inversus
5. Canon alla Ottava
6. Canon alla Duodecima
7. Canon alla Decima
8. Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu
9. Contrapunctus 14
10. Choral

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(The Art of the Fugue)

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Goldberg Variations, Johann Sebastian Bach
Walter Riemer, Fortepiano
JDT3375

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Piece Samples
1. Aria
2. Var 1 a 1 Clav.
3. Var 2 a 1 Clav.
4. Var 3 a 1 Clav. Canone all'unisono
5. Var 4 a 1 Clav.
6. Var 5 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
7. Var 6 a 1 Clav. Canone alla seconda
8. Var 7 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav. al tempo di Giga
9. Var 8 a 2 Clav.
10. Var 9 a 1 Clav. Canone alla terza
11. Var 10 a 1 Clav Fughetta
12. Var 11 a 2 Clav.
13. Var 12 Canone alla Quarta
14. Var 13 a 2 Clav.
15. Var 14 a 2 Clav.
16. Var 15 a 1 Clav. Canone all Quinta
17. Var 16 a 1 Clav. Ouverture
18. Var 17 a 2 Clav.
19. Var 18 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Sexta
20. Var 19 a 1 Clav.
21. Var 20 a 2 Clav.
22. Var 21 Canone alla Setima
23. Var 22 a 1 Clav. Alla breve
24. Var 23 a 2 Clav.
25. Var 24 a 1 Clav. Canone all'ottava
26. Var 25 a 2 Clav.
27. Var 26 a 2 Clav.
28. Var 27 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Nona
29. Var 28 a 2 Clav.
30. Var 29 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
31. Var 30 a 1 Clav. Quodilbet
32. Aria
Selections from Two Part Inventions and Three Part Symphonies
33. Inventio 4, BWV 775, D-minor
34. Inventio 8, BWV 779, F-Major
35. Inventio 9, BWV 780, F-minor
36. Inventio 13, BWV 775, A-minor
37. Sinfonia 2, BWV 788, C-minor
38. Sinfonia 6, BWV 792, E-Major
39. Sinfonia 7, BWV 793, E-minor
40 Sinfonia 9, BWV 795, F-minor
41. Sinfonia 13, BWV 799, A-minor
42. Sinfonia 15, BWV 801, B-minor

Most fortepiano specialists play works of the pre-classical and the classical period up to Mozart and his contemporaries on fortepianos of the Mozart type, but rarely Beethoven, let alone Schubert. Forerunners such as J.S. Bach or D. Scarlatti are particularly rarely performed or recorded on fortepianos. Walter Riemer is endeavoring to help to break open this tradition. After his world-wide first recording of the Art of the Fugue for Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF on a fortepiano he focused on the quite similarly mystified Goldberg Variations.

Again and again in expert circles the usability of the modern piano for J.S. Bach has been questioned; nevertheless this frequent practice is generally accepted except by genuine purists. Hardly anyone pursues the idea to perform J.S. Bach's “piano” works on a fortepiano (preferably of early build), even in scientific literature. It is often argued that Bach was not too fond of the first fortepianos he knew, made by Silbermann (although he judged later models more positively). It is often not kept in mind that in Bach's time there was much criticism of the inflexible sound of the harpsichord and many would prefer an instrument improved in that respect (the Clavichord was common and well-loved, but was not suitable as a concert instrument). It is not unlikely that Bach, if a fortepiano suitable for his needs had been available, would have preferred this instrument to the harpsichord for many of his “piano” works. He was sufficiently open-minded to write original works for “Lautenwerck” (a kind of oversized lute resonance body with harpsichord action, however gut strings), although this instrument possessed some serious disadvantages.

Walter Riemer began to ponder on this issue when working on and later recording the Art of the Fugue on his fortepiano of Mozart type. When this was done, several pianists addressed him on what would be his next project, and the unanimous opinion emerged that only the Goldberg Variations could follow. The situation with these, however, is somewhat different: Whereas for the Art of the Fugue Bach did not specify the instrumentation (many specialists are convinced: a keyboard instrument, but just as many believe in free choice of instruments), the Goldberg Variations are clearly dedicated to the two manual harpsichord. This results in some complications on a one manual instrument.

Another special problem is that of repetitions: Bach wrote all variations, both parts, with repetition marks. If everything is repeated, a performance duration of approximately 80 minutes results. On this CD the problem was solved pragmatically: Those parts with first and second conclusions, are repeated; thus actually “everything is played.” In some variations repetitions are performed without this condition.

The fortepiano was built in 1995 as a reproduction after an original by Andreas Stein (Augsburg 1773, the original situated in the Museum of Musical Instruments Leipzig).

Over decades or centuries music science and authors deplored the fact that Bach did not document his “temperature” in writing, so his method of tuning his “Claviere” unevenly (different from today's method used for the modern piano) came into oblivion. Dr. Bradley Lehman (USA) investigated and explained these apparently lost instructions. His relevant findings were published in two parts in February and in May 2005. The fortepiano used for this recording was tuned according to this method.


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