Notes and Editorial Reviews
Bernard Labadie's excellent transcription of the Goldberg Variations makes fascinating listening. In arranging the work for strings and continuo (including harpsichord and theorbo), the variations gain in contrast from one to the other, and the result has less of a "passacaglia" feel to it, and more of a "suite" character. The use of violins for the upper lines emphasizes the tunefulness of Bach's melodies, clarifies the counterpoint in the canons, and somehow gives the famous final Quodlibet's popular songs a more "folksy" feel.
Of course, there are drawbacks too: the variations that explore sheer keyboard virtuosity (such as No. 14, or the final
group after No. 25) sound rather tame with their brilliant figurations divided up between several players. Then again, on the plus side, there's an extra expressive intensity in the Aria and the slow variations (No. 15, and above all, No. 25, both of which take on the character of such profound slow movements as the "Crucifixus" from the B minor Mass or the second movement of the D minor Harpsichord Concerto).
In short, the sustaining power of the strings makes an effortless legato, critical in Bach's slow music, a matter of course rather than a technical tour-de-force, as is the case with a harpsichord (less so with piano, naturally). Labadie's interpretation (with all the repeats taken) is marvelous: lively, committed, carefully prepared, sensitive to the character of each individual variation, and the playing is spectacular. At 79-and-a-half minutes, this gorgeously recorded, well-filled disc really does shed new light on a familiar masterpiece in a way that is at once respectful and totally engaging.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Les Violons du Roy
Written: 1741-1742; Nuremberg, Germany
Notes: Arranged: Bernard Labadie
Composition written: Nuremberg, Germany (1741 - 1742).
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