Recorded in one take by noted pianist Lori Sims, the profoundly affecting Goldberg Variations reflects Sims’ facile grasp of the profundity of this hallowed compostion along with her deep musical identification with Bach’s intentions. Her liner notes demonstrate with wit and inclusiveness the cultural import of one of canonical pieces in classical repertory.
Even though Bach’s Goldberg Variations does not need to be recorded again by anyone, ever, it’s hard to resist Lori Sims’ vibrant and communicative live recording from the Dalton Center Recital Hall at Western Michigan University’s Kalamazoo campus. The opening Aria alone attests to the pianist’s naturally singing style, imaginative phrasing, and varied articulations.Read more Repeats abound with witty yet tasteful ornaments, while Sims balances the voices in the canonic variations to almost three-dimensional effect without sounding the least bit forced or contrived. The same goes for the organic give and take of Sims’ essentially line-oriented rubato, of which Variation 9, the canon at the third, represents a lovely example. Here Sims’ shapely rendering of the left-hand writing conveys the illusion of a cello and bow rather than a piano hammer striking a string.
Tiny hesitations at the top of Variation 25’s phrases enhance the music’s questioning profile and melodic richness. While many pianists focus on Variation 14’s trills, Sims brings out countermelodies that often are buried in the motoric accompaniment. Her equally adept and proudly independent hands do full justice to the cross-handed variations scored for two harpsichord manuals. It’s also marvelous to hear a joyful and upbeat Variation 30 Quodlibet, in contrast to the dutiful dirge that Simone Dinnerstein makes it out to be. On occasion Sims will slightly slow down from the tempo with which she began a variation, but that often happens in live performances when one adjusts to the acoustics and to the audience. The pianist observes all repeats except in the Aria Da Capo, which is followed by a long silence and deservedly hearty applause. In all, a masterful, heartfelt, and simply beautiful performance.
Very Worthwhile Addition to the GoldbergsFebruary 6, 2016By Peter K. (Fort Collins, CO)See All My Reviews"This is a very enjoyable rendition of the Goldberg Variations, lyrical and playful by turns, with beautiful articulation and shaping throughout. I like it so much better than the heavy rendition on DVD by Barenboim, which is self-consciously orchestral. I even like this better than Angela Hewitt's CD, and that is saying a lot, as I adore Angela Hewitt playing Bach. I've never heard the like of this performance--full of deft charm and graciousness. Highly recommended!"Report Abuse