Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy here give us a vision of Bach's final piece that is bracing and expansive at the same time. The Art of the Fugue, Bach's most maleable masterpiece, recives as fine a reading as there is on this disc. What less did you expect from the world's greatest recording outfit?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Dorian Recordings has never made a bad disc--but it has made more than its share of great ones.
This disc is one of the greatest.
I was surpised by the range spanned on the individual tracks of this disc. One moment we hear interesting string arrangements, the next we hear an organ (dear God, they even manage to make this most personally hateful of instruments sound beautiful). That Mr. Labadie's forces can pull this off, while never losing an over-arching cohesion is nothing short of miraculous.
The one slight gripe I have with this disc is that the tempos employed in order to achieve the cohesion mentioned above gives some of these pieces too much of a dancing/beer-hall lilt (my wife argues with me on the beer-hall part). In this sense, though they are more limited in range, the Emerson Quartet's recent release scores points if you want the Art of the Fugue to be a little more introspective.
However, if what you want is sheer beauty, look no further. This is an artful "Art of." Mr. Labadie, his ensemble, and Dorian (this disc features their typically outstanding sound) all stand to be commended.
This is a great disc.
I give it a very high recommendation.