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Bach: Goldberg Variations / Rubsam


Release Date: 08/10/2018 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573921  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Wolfgang Rübsam
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Wolfgang Rubsam is one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Bach, and his extensive series of the composer’s music on Naxos has earned critical admiration. In turning to the Goldberg Variations, the culmination of Baroque variation technique, Rubsam has sought out a new approach. His use of the Keith Hill lute-harpsichord, especially built for him to period specifications, has enabled Rubsam to honor Bach’s conception of cantabile playing with appropriate baroque keyboard performance practices, including ornamentation and independent voicing of polyphony, thus not only making this complex score more transparent but shining new light on one of the great monuments of keyboard music. Wolfgang Rubsam is one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Bach, and his extensive series of the composer’s music on Naxos has earned critical admiration. In turning to the Goldberg Variations, the culmination of Baroque variation technique, Rubsam has sought out a new approach. His use of the Keith Hill lute-harpsichord, especially built for him to period specifications, has enabled Rubsam to honor Bach’s conception of cantabile playing with appropriate baroque keyboard performance practices, including ornamentation and independent voicing of polyphony, thus not only making this complex score more transparent but shining new light on one of the great monuments of keyboard music. Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Wolfgang Rübsam (Lute-harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741-1742; Nuremberg, Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 An unequalled recording November 9, 2018 By Hendrik Vorster (Canmore, AB) See All My Reviews "I am an engineer, not a musician or musicologist, and I have been a long-time admirer of Wolfgang Rubsam; so my comments about this recording are rather personal and hardly unbiased. Having said that, let there be no doubt that Wolfgang Rubsam's recording of JSB's Goldberg Variations is like no other recording of the variations that you have heard before. Firstly, it is recorded on a lute harpsichord (lautenwerk), a keyboard instrument with plucked gut strings, as opposed to plucked metal strings like on a harpsichord. While dynamically limited like the harpsichord, it has a lute-like timbre that does not tire the ears as easily as the metallic ring of the harpsichord strings. Although JSB personally owned two of these instruments at his death, no lute harpsichords survived into modernity. This one was built for Rubsam by instrument builder Keith Hill based on period specifications. Secondly, Wolfgang Rubsam's approach to JSB's keyboard music is unlike that of other performers of these works. Rubsam is one of the most dedicated and thoughtful performers of JSB keyboard works in the world today. If you have not heard any of his recordings before, be ready to be surprised, disoriented even, and be prepared to have to work at listening to it. Forget the driving meter, the breakneck tempi and overt virtuosity to be found on your Glenn Gould recording of the variations. Instead of experiencing a rendering of the finished score, hear the music as if it is being improvised; as it is forming in the composer's mind, his thoughts unfolding into sound while we listen, sometimes forceful and eloquent, and at times hesitant and searching. Hear individual voices develop almost independently, each with its own tempo, meter, either ahead, on, or behind the beat, yet hanging together as a musical whole. All this leaves the distinct impression that this recording is not a definitive performance of the variations; that there might have been ever so many subtly different ways the music might have unfolded; a sense of improvisation. Don't expect to necessarily like it at first listening. Repeated listening may convince you of the merits of Rubsam's approach. As for me, Rubsam opened up new windows into the mind of the greatest composer of all time. If along the way you do get persuaded about the merits of Rubsam's approach, explore also his piano recordings of JSB keyboard works available on the Naxos label. Though equally insightful, these interpretations are actually easier to absorb, both due to our intimate familiarity with the modern piano and due to the use of dynamics available on the piano" Report Abuse
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