Choir and Organ
Chriss Bragg
Choir and Organ-november-2021
The production is lavish, as one expects from Aeolus [...]

There’s a particular resonance in performing The Art of Fugue in Naumburg. Bach’s son-in law Johann Christoph Altnickol, appointed organist of the Hildebrandt organ on Bach’s recommendation, was responsible for appending the text ‘Die Kunst der Fuge’ to the title page of the Berlin autograph. Samuel Kummer, organist of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, provides extensive notes on his approach. The issues discussed include the order (which adopts Wolfgang Wiemer’s plan with the Canon alla Duodecima preceding the Canon alla Decima), possible theological parallels – likewise posited by Wiemer – and issues of execution at the organ. Some interesting details regarding this last aspect include the performance of Contrapuncti 8 and 11 as trios and Contrapunctus 12 on two manuals and pedal, whereby both hands play on two manuals simultaneously. Following ‘Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein’ (‘Vor deinen Thron’), Kummer presents his own completion of the Fuga a 3 soggetti, but rather with four subjects, the fourth being the main subject (characterised by Wiemer as the ‘King David’ theme) in its original form. Kummer plays with a nice combination of monumentality (the final fugue on coupled plena with 16ft Trumpet in the manual and 32ft trombone in the pedal) and a supple lightness in the sparser textures, making imaginative use of the wealth of 8ft colour. The production is lavish, as one expects from Aeolus, the sound of the spectacular Naumburg organ perhaps slightly too intimate for an organ on the highest of three galleries.