Notes and Editorial Reviews
At long last, EMI issues Igor Kipnis' Goldberg Variations for the first time on CD. You probably haven't noticed it in the stores; or else you've seen it and not paid attention. That's understandable. After all, there must be a trillion and one harpsichord Goldberg Variations clogging the bins. And its cover design resembles most other Seraphim reissues lumped together in Budget Ghetto Land. It doesn't exactly leap out and yell "buy me, buy me!" Moreover, the performance is broken up between two CDs, albeit with plenty of filler. Since you can find plenty of excellent single-disc harpsichord Goldbergs with all repeats, why even consider this recording? For the simple reason that Kipnis offers one of the most technically
accomplished, individualistic, and deeply musical recordings of the Goldberg Variations ever made – that's why! You'll have to search far and wide to find Goldbergs so brilliantly thought out yet seemingly spontaneous, so stylistically sound yet utterly unacademic, so unpredictable in detail yet profoundly true to the composer's spirit.
Kipnis strips the Aria down to its melodic kernel, only adding Bach's notated ornaments on the repeats. On virtually every repeat the soloist pulls decorative, ornamental bunnies out of a bottomless magic hat and holds your attention with unexpected accents and agogic stresses that propel rather than stop the musical flow. The rhythmic freedom Kipnis brings to variations such as the anguished 25th or toccata-like 29th is proportioned to perfection. His fillers are no less distinguished. The Italian Concerto's first movement swings in a marvelously unmetronomic fashion (no "sewing machine" Bach here!), with discreet, Landowska-like textural thickeners followed by an affecting lute-stop accompaniment in the slow movement. I'd prefer a quicker tread in the Presto, but still acknowledge the harpsichordist's elegant left-hand detailing.
Under Kipnis' fluent fingers, the Variations in the Italian Style are both deft and graceful. He imbues the B minor French Overture with all the double-dotted pomp he can muster, and gauges the subsequent movement's tempos and moods as effortlessly as a seasoned DJ reads the crowd on the disco floor. Kipnis uses a two-manual instrument after Hass by Rutkowski and Robinette, and EMI's warm engineering beautifully reproduces the instrument's roomy bass notes and rich, clatter-free resonance.
– Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Igor Kipnis (Harpsichord)
Written: 1741-1742; Nuremberg, Germany
Notes: Composition written: Nuremberg, Germany (1741 - 1742).
Italian Concerto, BWV 971 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Igor Kipnis (Harpsichord)
Written: 1735; Leipzig, Germany
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