Gramophone

Even more valuable [than the new Naxos CD of Bach by Wanda Landowska] is the first CD transfer of the pre-war Columbia “Society” set of Bach’s The Art of Fugue in a string quartet version by Roy Harris and Mary DH Norton played by the Roth Quartet. We’re given the 14 fugues but not the four canons, all feelingly played with the odd touch of portamento to offset the austerity. A “conjectural completion” of the last fugue isn’t played by the quartet (who offer us a particularly intense rendition of the unfinished original), but by the pianist-composer-educator who prepared it, Sir Donald Tovey. Fine transfers from Divine Art – especially laudable given certain unavoidable problems posed by the original 78s – and excellent annotations.

—Rob Cowan