JS Bach • Mozart

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach,Mozart
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach & Mozart: Adagios and Fugues
WORKS: Bach (arr. Mozart): Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 – Adagio & Fugues, BWV 867, BWV 891, BWV 849; Book 2 – Adagio & Fugue in E, K405/3; Prelude & Fugue in D minor, K405/4; Larghetto cantabile in D & Fugue K405/5; Adagio cantabile & Fugue in E flat, BWV 876; Mozart: Allegro in C minor, K Anh 44 & Fuga a due Cembali, K426; Adagio & Fugue in C minor, K546
PERFORMER: Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 902159

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In 1782 Mozart made a thorough study of music by JS Bach and Handel, and besides such original contrapuntal masterpieces as the Mass in C minor, K427, he made arrangements of oratorios by Handel, and string quartet transcriptions of five fugues from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. On this recording the latter are paired with slow introductions substituting for Bach’s Preludes, once thought to be by Mozart, but clearly not his. Nor are the arrangements of the two five-part fugues from Book 1 of Bach’s collection (played here, for the sake of variety, on winds, rather than strings).

We can also hear Mozart arranging himself: his own Fugue in C minor is performed here in both its initial version for two pianos, K426, and its later manifestation for strings, K546. For the string version Mozart added an imposing slow introduction in Handelian style, and in an attempt to find a parallel for the two-piano fugue Raphael Alpermann and Jörg-Andreas Bötticher have curiously roped in an unrelated Allegro that Mozart left as a fragment. Their performance of the fugue is rather underpowered, but for the rest the Berlin Akademie für Alte Musik offers an enterprising insight into Mozart’s fascination with Baroque counterpoint.

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Misha Donat