Contrapunctus IV

Chiaroscuro Quartet
Menuhin’s Heritage Artist
Alina Ibragimova, Violin
Pablo Hernán Benedí, Violin
Emilie Hörnlund, Viola
Claire Thirion, Cello

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Contrapunctus IV from “The Art of Fugue” BWV 1080

Recorded on 17 July 2016 at the Rougemont Church.

Chiaroscuro Quartet play from the Art of Fugue

Chiaroscuro Quartet is led by violinist Alina Ibragimova. She is one of the last students of Lord Yehudi Menuhin and is part of the programme Menuhin’s Heritage Artists. In this concert Chiaroscuro play from Bach’s masterpiece The Art of the Fugue. Usually played on piano, Chiaroscuro‘s version of Contrapunctus IV highlights the polyphonous structure through the different instruments.

The Art of  Fugue

In 1747 Bach travels to Berlin to visit his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach who works at the court of Friedrich II. Upon his arrival he is immediately requested to improvise on a theme that the king provides him with. Later on Bach reworks his improvisations into A Musical Offering. Together with the Art of the Fugue a Musical Offering is amongst Bach’s most complicated and brilliant music.  When composing the Art of Fugue Bach (1747) takes a step towards the “Absolute”. During this time, he also fights the signs of his bodily decline. He starts to lose his eye sight because of a sight debility that he had since birth. A sentence by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach on the last page of the incomplete manuscript of the Art of the Fugue, led to the belief that Johann Sebastian Bach died whilst dictating the last movement of the fourteenth fugue to his son. The name of Bach features in this last movement. Bach dies on 28th July 1750, leaving behind an immense musical legacy. The year of Bach’s death 1750 is usually noted as the end of the Baroque era.


The Italian term chiaroscuro denotes the light and dark paintings of the Baroque era. The strong contrasts should provide the paintings with more spatiality and expression. In their artistry, Chiaroscuro strives towards that effect. They play on gut strings and try to  get as close as possible to the performance practice of the baroque and classical period. Quatuor Chiaroscuo exists since more than ten years and has built a reputation of an exceptional ensemble for the music of the Mozart era.


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