Alan Feinberg

Fugue State

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Pianist Alan Feinberg recorded expressionistic versions of John Bull's unconventional English Renaissance keyboard piece several years before releasing this utterly, by modern standards, iconoclastic collection of fugues by various composers of the 17th and 18th centuries. Unashamedly pianistic, these readings rely on the idea that, in Feinberg's words, "[e]ach fugue can be thought of as a character piece, each with its own personality, scope, level of complexity, and affect." There is little or no support for this view in the Baroque literature, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing: Feinberg puts it across. The program concludes chronologically with Bach and Handel, who surely do exhibit contrasting interior and exterior characteristics even in fugues. The program is filled out with works by Bach's model Buxtehude, whose opposite number is the more brilliant Froberger, and there are some little-known keyboard fugues by both Domenico and Alessandro Scarlatti. Feinberg's recital will not win any awards for historical accuracy, but nobody has done anything like it before, and it's highly listenable. Excellent sound from Virginia's Sono Luminus studio, emerging as a leading U.S. studio venue for high-end audio, is a major attraction.

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