Johann Sebastian BACH, Die Kunst der Fuge Johann Sebastian Bach, Toccatas

Probably no single work by Johann Sebastian Bach is surrounded with such an aura of mystery and secrecy as The Art of Fugue. The legends that attend it have certainly not prevented direct access to the monumental cycle of fugues, but they have palpably hampered any appreciation free of the prejudice concerning Bach’s artistic calibre. The mass of peripheral literature stretching across the generations has become almost impenetrable, making it difficult even for specialists to separate the grain of serious research – scientifically based and verifiable – from the over-abundant chaff of erroneous speculation.
Léon Berben presents a deeply personal interpretation of this masterwork. For him, Bach’s The Art of Fugue is not simply a theoretical or mathematical exercise, but is living music, replete with all the emotions and affects that musical rhetoric can deliver. His choice of instrument was not left to chance: the 1744 Wagner organ in Angermünde, with its characteristic voices and precise acoustic, allows for a distinct presentation of the counterpoint. Berben’s interpretation is characterised by the rigour of his textual reading (for example, his respect for original tempo indications) and his vivacious playing – without doubt a new benchmark in the recording history of the piece.

Léon Berben  Whether as organist or harpsichordist, LÉON BERBEN can be considered a master in his field. His extensive knowledge of music history and historical performance practice make him one of the leading figures within the younger generation of the early music world. His repertoire embraces keyboard music from 1550 to 1770, in particular German music, the Virginalists and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. He is the co-author of various articles in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. His interpretations are given special weight by intensive study of the sources, and constant research work, and his solo recordings on historic instruments have received great critical acclaim, winning several awards including the Diapason d'or, Monde de la Musique's "Choc", as well as the German quaterly Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. Léon Berben was born in 1970 in Heerlen, The Netherlands, and lives in Cologne. He gained his solo diploma in organ and harpsichord in Amsterdam and The Hague, studying with Rienk Jiskoot, Gustav Leonhardt, Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot. He was the harpsichordist for Musica Antiqua Köln (Reinhard Goebel) from March, 2000, with whom he performed throughout Europe, Asia and North and South America, and recorded many CDs with Deutsche Grammophon / Archiv Produktion. Since the dissolution of the ensemble in 2006, he has pursued a solo career, appearing in several of the most prestigious international festivals.


1. Contrapunctus 1
2. Contrapunctus 2
3. Contrapunctus 3
4. Contrapunctus 4
5. Canon alla Ottava
6. Contrapunctus 5
7. Contrapunctus 6 a 4 in Stylo Francese
8. Contrapunctus 7 a 4 per Augmentationem et Diminutionem
9. Canon alla Decima in Contrapunto alla Terza  
10. Contrapunctus 8 a 3
11. Contrapunctus 9 a 4 alla Duodecima
12. Contrapunctus 10 a 4 alla Decima
13. Contrapunctus 11 a 4
14. Canon alla Duodecima in Contrapunto alla Quinta  
15. Contrapunctus inversus 12 a 4 Forma inversa
16. Contrapunctus inversus 12 a 4 Forma recta
17. Contrapunctus inversus 13 a 3 Forma recta
18. Contrapunctus inversus 13 a 3 Forma inversa
19. Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu
20. Fuga a 3 Soggetti