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Bach: Goldberg Variations / Ragna Schirmer

Bach,J.s. / Schirmer
Release Date: 04/13/2010 
Label:  Berlin Classics   Catalog #: 184802   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Ragna Schirmer
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 27 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Ragna Schirmer made her debut with this particular recording in 2000, the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death. This is my first encounter with the recording, and it possesses a few interesting details. Schirmer is very capable of handling the mechanical difficulties here, and she takes a relatively moderate approach to this music—tempi never too brisk, nor too dawdling, never under-ornamented nor overly so, never staccatissimo nor legatissimo. In general, I would call this safe playing. There are moments where this type of playing, however, is very convincing. An example can be found in Variation 2, where the playful character is brought out by the detached, bouncy articulation that she uses, along with the soft dynamic and moderate Read more tempo. Her voicing here, as throughout the recording, is impeccable. That’s not to say that she doesn’t (or can’t) bring some excitement to the more virtuosic variations, such as No. 8, where she sounds a bit more muscular than in any of the previous movements. She tends to have a light, quasi-harpsichord approach throughout, which for some of the more complex pieces, such as the canons, helps her bring out many of the details. Sometimes I wish for a bit more sound, though, such as in Variation 29’s toccata, where the contrast between the chords and the rapid scales could be highlighted a bit more. This, along with her emotional restraint in the slow variations—the deliberate and brooding, chromatic Variation 25, for example, where the feeling of suffering that Bach requires is just not present—makes the recording fall short. In her more recent recordings, such as her traversal of the complete Handel suites, Schirmer takes a bit more dramatic license, playing with tonal shading, heaviness and lightness of sound, ornamentation, and tempi—something that, I think, she could have done a little more of here; but, for a debut recording, this is a very fine one, indeed."

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Works on This Recording

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Ragna Schirmer (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741-1742; Nuremberg, Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
Venue:  Johanniterkirche Groß Eichsen 
Length: 82 Minutes 8 Secs. 

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