World-class ensemble brings Bach to life for Rugby audience - The Rugby Observer

World-class ensemble brings Bach to life for Rugby audience

Rugby Editorial 16th Oct, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

The Art of Fugue – Brecon Baroque

St Andrew’s Church

Rugby and those music lovers who live within its concert catchment area must consider themselves lucky.

A second visit from the world-renowned Rachel Podger within a year, and this time she’s brought some top class reinforcements. Brecon Baroque – thanks largely to a local connection in the ranks – brought Bach’s formidably complex The Art of Fugue to St Andrew’s.




Bach’s knotty musical intertwinings were never trickier than in this work, more frequently played as a solo piano suite than in the augmented quartet form here.

One of the main problems both for those presenting the piece and their audience is to separate the many voices within the music. Bach takes a short theme and repeats, offsets, flips and reverses it endlessly and simultaneously until the effect is like trying to unpick a knotted shoelace without using your fingers.


What Brecon Baroque managed to achieve with aplomb was to allow the listener to follow each instrument’s progress through this steadily tightening knot without losing sight of the wonderful complexity of the whole.

This reading of the piece also benefits from a variation in the marshaling of the forces. Quartet plus harpsichord becomes trio, various duets and two marvelous keyboard solos. This is truly a three dimensional approach to such a musical puzzle.

But setting the music’s myth and maths aside, the real merits of this performance lie in the beautiful, pulsating sound of an ensemble working perfectly together. If you’re ever offered a chance to hear them, take it.

Brecon Baroque head west to their festival next weekend but there is plenty more for music lovers over the coming months. St Andrew’s hosts a series of concerts offering music from all genres starting with the Belladors on November 20 and becoming increasingly festive as Christmas approaches.

Matthew Salisbury

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