This program is centred around the fugue, one of the main and most complex contrapuntal forms in the history of western cultural music, which reached its apex in the Baroque period thanks to Johann Sebastian Bach.

After Bach’s death and the abandonment of the complex Baroque structures in favour of a much easier and melodic gallant style, there have been very few composers who explored the dense polyphonic frame of the fugue. Incidentally, the cello repertoire is the one which benefited most from the “experiments” of some of the greatest classical and romantic composers.

Beethoven ends his production of Sonatas for accompanied instrument with a fugue. In fact the third and conclusive movement of Sonata op. 102 n. 2 is based on a complex double-subject, 4 voices fugue whose form comes from the Bachian teachings.

Brahms, fifty years later, went even further form-wise and composed a Sonata strongly inspired by Bach (so much that in the frontispiece of his autograph manuscript it is written “Salute to Bach”): the themes of the first and third movement are based respectively on the contrapuncti 4 and 13 from The Art of the Fugue, and in the third movement he even creates a singular cross-breed between a true 4 voices fugue and the Sonata form, thus succeeding in finding a common ground between the most complex musical form of the Baroque period (the fugue) and the highest expression of the classical period (the Sonata form).

Johann Sebastian Bach

Contrapunctus I from “The Art of Fugue” BWV 1080
Preludio from Suite for cello solo No. 5 in C minor BWV 1011
Fuga in A minor BWV 889 from 2nd book of “The well-tempered Clavier”

Ludwig van Beethoven

Sonata for cello and piano No. 5 in D major, Op. 102 No. 2


Johann Sebastian Bach

Contrapunctus IV and XIIIb inversus from “The Art of Fugue” BWV 1080
Choral “Erkenne mich, mein Hüter” from “St. Matthew Passion” BWV 244
(trascrizioni per violoncello e pianoforte di Umberto Clerici)

Johannes Brahms

Sonata for cello and piano No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38

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