Notes and Editorial Reviews
Of all the many arrangements/transcriptions that have been made of Bach's Goldberg Variations, Sitkovetsky's version for string trio is perhaps the most logical, sensible, and musically satisfying. The familial timbres of violin, viola, and cello assure a consistently agreeable ensemble sound that holds up well over the course of 30 variations, yet the instruments are different enough that important individual lines are easily distinguishable to the ear. Technically, these three instruments can relatively easily satisfy all the work's demands regarding range, textural variety, ornamentation, and expression, and Sitkovetsky invariably finds elegant solutions to creating divisions of labor among the three instruments that sound seamless and
Cellist Mischa Maisky performed on the 1984 Orfeo recording (released in 1985) with Sitkovetsky and violist Gérard Caussé, and that reading retains a warmth of sound and conveys a directness of style and ensemble rapport that's just slightly less apparent in this new performance. And yet, the two versions are more similar than they are different, not least of which regards the strength and confidence of the playing and the refusal to overplay or in any way subvert the music's inherent clarity and "simplicity".
For some listeners, the most important difference will be the fact that in his own performance Sitkovetsky doesn't take all of the repeats, thus the Orfeo recording times at 56 minutes as opposed to this new disc's 80. For me, the shorter rendition makes a tight, well-paced, fully satisfying interpretation, and as mentioned, the performances are unbeatable. However, if you're interested in the full effect of Bach's work (not to mention completeness), including all of the first and second endings, presented in the larger structural context of the original, you shouldn't miss Rachlin, Imai, and Maisky's consistently compelling, tonally vibrant reading. The recording perspective is fairly close (you occasionally hear a vocal sound from one of the performers), but it's right for this music, serving to enhance our awareness of the dynamic interaction among the players. Recommended!
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Nobuko Imai (Viola),
Mischa Maisky (Cello),
Julian Rachlin (Violin)
Written: 1741-1742; Nuremberg, Germany
Notes: Composition written: Nuremberg, Germany (1741 - 1742).
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