The fugue is a compositional device, where voices or instruments imitate each other one by one, creating an elaborate polyphony in the process. The form flourished in the Baroque era, and had no greater exponent than Johann Sebastian Bach whose extraordinary The Art of Fugue gives this concert its title. Haydn frequently used the fugue as a vehicle for musical conversation and wit, as in the final movement of Opus 20 no. 6. Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue similarly was written originally as a final movement to his String Quartet no. 13 op. 130, but unlike Haydn’s it is mammoth in form, eccentric in its language, and bold in its musical statement. Stravinsky described it as “an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever”.
|Josef Haydn – Quartet no. 24 in A major, op. 20, no. 6, Hob.III:36|
|J. S. Bach – The Art of Fugue|
|Pēteris Vasks – String Quartet or Thomas Adès – Arcadiana|
|Ludwig van Beethoven – Grosse Fuge in B flat major, op. 133|