On Sunday, December 16th, Ensemble Montaigne will perform Jan van Vlijmen’s arrangement of ‘Die Kunst der Fuge’ in MaiHof Luzern. This arrangement was made in 2001 and recorded by the Dutch Viotta Ensemble…
Every year on one of the last Sundays of Advent, musicians gather in a Swiss city for the performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental work “The Art of the Fugue” – in the sense of a kind of meditation. Meditation here refers to two levels: on the large scale, it refers to the cycle of the years which the performances form, in the small case the work itself, which deals with the same principle in different forms: the fugue.
Bach’s Art of the Fugue is a work that was not written for a particular cast – in this context, the American composer John Cage once mentioned it in a lecture as an example of a work in music history in which coincidence plays a role. Introducing chance into music is the credit that is commonly attributed to John Cage.
The instrumentation to be used for the performances of the Ensemble Montaigne was written by the Dutch composer Jan van Vlijmen in 2001. It liberates the structure of Bach’s music in an almost analytical manner, using the instrumental instruments of the wind section (alto flute, Cor anglais, bass clarinet) and the line-up of the string quintet with only one violin but two violas, the ensemble’s register shifts conspicuously towards the depths. The result is a sound that in a peculiar way and reminiscent of the means of contemporary music to historical instruments – a meditation in the form of a flight of thought into distant times and lonely musical heights.