Kunst der Fuge

We went down to Lund for some culture this evening. The yearly organ festival was finishing up with Johann Sebastian Bach's "Kunst der Fuge" in the Cathedral. Can't pass that up!

This is the fugue that was supposedly the last thing Bach wrote. His son noted on the partiture "The author died while writing the name BACH in the contrasubject". Yeah, right. Did they have the yellow press in 1750, eager for any and all sensations? Did he really drop dead over this sheet, smushing that bar on the top?

Anyway, Tomas Willstedt and Janåke Larsson played using two of the five (!) organs available in the Cathedral in Lund. According to the Wikipedia, the gallery organ is one of the largest in Sweden with over 7000 pipes!

We got there early for the free concert, but the doors weren't opened yet. Seems everyone shows up on the dot of 5 minutes early and gets seated quickly. Some discipline they have! The church was full (maybe 300 people) but there were a few seats available.

The program had the first few bars of each fugue printed, so if you could read music it was easy to follow where exactly you were. I had my eyes closed for the first few ones, and suddenly realized that I was now surrounded by sound, as there were now four hands playing, one orgen in the back, one in the front. I did not see the organists communicating, other than that they had decided who was starting each Contrapunktus with the other joining in as marked.

The cathedral is a wonderful place for music, although it could have been louder, as WiseMan noted. One of the Contrapunkta was so delicate, it sounded like drops of rain gently raining down from the roof.

The worst part was the very end - approx. 30 microseconds after the last note was played some boffo in the first row started clapping wildly and others joined in, must microseconds later to demonstrate that they knew that the piece was over. Why can't you let the music settle in, that last, unfinished note reverberate in the largeness of the cathedral? Tomas Willstedt was so mad, he didn't want to come out to get his flowers from the people who organized it. Larson had to drag him from behind the console down to the front.

I rather felt in those last few fugues some sense of dreading, of the Bach approaching his end. And strangely enough, my sense of smell, which has been making quite a comeback this summer, suddenly smelled the dank that is inside such a building.

An enjoyable evening, now I have to go read "Gödel, Escher, Bach" again.

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