Niels Bijl

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exemplarily contemporary tribute to Bach

NRC handelsblad, October 11th, 2005

To this day musicologists do not agree on the intention of Bach’s Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080. Is it a work for keyboard instruments? For any randomly chosen instrumental line up? Or even a purely theoretical construction for education purposes? Musicians don’t have to lie awake at night over this issue; perhaps their most important task is to make such discussions irrelevant. The Aurelia Saxophone Quartet does that with verve on Fugue in C of Dog. De Kunst der Fuge, as they show, is primarily about structure; a structure that comes through on every instrument. The quartet sounds homogenous and loving, almost in love, during the fugues and canons of Bach’s – last – masterwork. On a second CD fifteen contemporary composers reflect on the meaning of Bach. Here the compositions are unequivocally written for saxophone quartet, and the Kunst der Fuge can be heard in quotations, characteristic movements and techniques. A strong example is the title piece Fugue in C of Dog by Dmitri Nicholau (1946), where Bach’s basic theme surfaces in an extrapolated form. Theodor Burkali (1975) echoes the same theme in his Ensemobile II: he adds notes into the theme, but in such a way that it still remains recognisable. The other compositions, many from Dutch composers, are each and every one worthwhile, often lively and swinging. The quartet also plays these excellently which makes the double-CD an exemplary contemporary homage to Bach.
Jochem Valkenburg, NRC handelsblad