Bach: Goldberg Variations / András Schiff
Johann Sebastian Bach
Number of Discs:
1 Hours 11 Mins.
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
It takes a lot to step up to Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The shadow of Glenn Gould’s seminal 1959 recording and his equally monumental 1981 reading still looms large across the piano world. Murray Perahia did the job admirably a few years ago, and now Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff has thrown his hat into the ring. From the sound of it, he’s a contender.
At about an hour and eleven minutes, Schiff’s recording is almost twice the length of Gould’s original and still 20 minutes longer than the weighty later recording, and is nearly the length of Perahia’s (the longest in the WQXR library, incidentally, is Roslyn Tureck’s, just over 90 minutes). Don’t let the length fool you into thinking that there’s anything somnolent about
Schiff’s playing; he does observe most repeats, but to great effect, varying the recapitulations with facile ornamentation and a spry and breezy musicality that is captivating. Schiff has a great feel for the Baroque and for Bach, and each line bends and rocks with an autumnal, organic warmth.
If you love the Gould, listen to Schiff; he’s got every bit of the jazzy swing of the master. If you hate the Gould, listen to Schiff; he’s got an unstudied naturalness that makes it sound like he’s just making this stuff up. If you don’t know Gould, pick up his recordings along with Schiff’s, make a big bowl of popcorn, and spend a few hours next Sunday night being taken to school.
Works on This Recording
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 by Johann Sebastian Bach
András Schiff (Piano)
Written: 1741-1742; Nuremberg, Germany
Date of Recording: 10/30/2001
Venue: Stadtcasino, Basel, Switzerland
Length: 72 Minutes 19 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: Nuremberg, Germany (1741 - 1742).
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
a major disappointment October 8, 2012
By William S. (Renton, WA) See All My Reviews
"It starts off well. The aria and the first variations are perfection (or one form of it), and you think you're going to hear one of the Truly Great Goldbergs. Unfortunately, Schiff too-often switches to auto-pilot mode, with the notes spilling out in virtuoso style, with little expressivity and/or sense of connection/contrast with the surrounding variations. Schiff is one of my favorite pianists, but he's becoming increasingly erratic, possibly as part of his stated desire to remove "sentimentality" from his performances."