Niels Bijl

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…Bach is resurrected from the dead

Het Parool, November 7th, 2005

The romanticised fairytale has it that J.S. Bach died while he was composing his Kunst der Fuge. And that is why the very last fugue ends suddenly in the middle of a bar. How to you deal with that as an arranger? Do you just end in the middle (always very dramatic.) Or do you add a choral? (Frequently done; from Vor Deinen Thron tret ich hiermit tot Komm, süsser Tod. Always very symbolic.) Or do you do something crazier, like the Vienna Saxophone Quartet, that finished the piece with the famout Air (tasteless), or the Berlin Saxophone Quartet, that ended with a free improvisation (a bit too daring)? The Aurelia Saxophone Quartet comes up with a genius solution. Arranger Willem van Merwijk divides Die Kunst der Fuge into three cycles, with the prematurely ending Fuga a 3 soggetti at the end of the second cycle. The effect is breathtaking, because Bach is then resurrected from the dead, and the following six virtuoso, elated contrapuntal excercises work as an ode to life.
And they play magnificently. Beautiful depth of ensemble colour and distinctively melodious. A pleasure to listen to.
On cd 2 they let composers cast a comtemporary light on the fugue. The works by Peter van Onna, Guus Janssen and Wijnand van Klaveren jump out in particular.

Erik Voermans, Het Parool