Portland String Quartet in Collaboration with Mechanics’ Hall
Portland String Quartet: Dean Stein, violin; Callie Brennan , violin;
Brianna Fischler, viola; Kelly Knox, cello
The Art of the Fugue is Bach’s final work and it remained unfinished upon his death in 1750. The performance tonight is faithful to the original score, which includes all the 3 and 4-part fugues, and culminates with the forthright statement of his name in music: B-flat A C H (B natural). Historians, musicologists and performers all agree that this “signature” is a proclamation of the triumphant human spirit.
The Portland String Quartet has made this work a hallmark of our career and legacy, having performed it from our first year together and recorded it for Arabesque Records in 1985. Ovation reported: “The performance by the Portland String Quartet is intense and conscientious … No fault can be found regarding the clarity with which the polyphonic strands emerge.”
We offer tonight’s performance in gratitude for the City of Portland and the greater Portland and Maine community welcoming us in 1969 as principal players of the PSO and providing a home from which we continue to celebrate the artistry and beauty of the State of Maine around the world.
The Art of the Fugue, by Johann Sebastian Bach
Contrapunctus I – VII
– Short Intermission –
Contrapunctus VIII – XI
– Short Intermission –
Contrapunctus XII – XIV
Johann Sebastian Bach’s life-long interest in fugue writing culminated in a series of nineteen fugues and canons based on the same subject and presented in an extraordinary variety of styles. The result is an unparalleled demonstration of technical mastery and inexhaustible musical inventiveness.
The Art of the Fugue, however, has been subject to neglect as a performance work because for years the notion was held that this great masterpiece of compositional craftsmanship was solely a theoretical work to be studied. This notion is, in part, accounted for by the fact that Bach wrote the score with no indication of instruments for its performance. Numerous scholars have arrived at the unwarranted conclusion, therefore, that he did not intend the work to be performed. There are still those who adhere to the view that an “abstract” score should remain a silent score, but the music of the Art of the Fugue can no longer be denied.
(Notes from first PSQ performance, 1970)
Paul Vermel, Music Director, Portland Symphony Orchestra
The final notes written by Bach
For more information: www.PortlandStringQuartet.com
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