Saturday, January 9, 2010

Goldberg Variations: On Harpsichord, Accordion, Harp, Guitar, Organ, a Wacky Piano and Piano Duo

One of the most fascinating things about Bach's music is that it is open to seemingly unlimited possibilities of interpretations. The Italian Concerto for harpsichord can be turned into a swing jazz trio, and Cantata 140 made a perfect countermelody for A Whiter Shade of Pale. After Glenn Gould's legendary 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations, numerous instrumentalists and ensembles have approached it in so many different manners. Personally I found Murray Perahia's the most satisfying, but there's also many other interesting recordings available on Spotify.

Here's my Spotify playlist of some Goldberg recordings: Variations Goldberg

Céline Frisch's version is the best one on harpsichord I've heard. Denis Patković's accordion version includes a series of musical interludes--specifically conceived for insertion into Bach's score--composed by Finnish composer Jukka Tiensuu. The young German pianist Martin Stadtfeld offers arguably the most orthodox performance of BWV988 ever, I can't say that I love it or I'm convinced, but it's definitely not wacky for wacky's sake. I think that any interpretation that stirs the listeners to disagree with the artist in a creative way is worth hearing.

Besides versions played on harp by Catrin Finch, on guitar by Kurt Rodarmer, and on organ by Bernard Lagacé, I also including a very new recording of Max Reger's piano duo arrangement of Goldberg, released in November, 2009. Another recording of this arrangement was selected as the best new recording of 2009 by WETA, here's a quotation on the arrangement:

"There are moments where, in reference to the opera paraphrases of Liszt et al., you might want to re-title: “L’Grand Fantasie d’Goldberg”, but surprisingly few. Instead, the joy is to perk your ears and listen for the often subtle little additions, fourth melodies, staccato octaves added in hushed shades of pianissimo. Even the aria, which is traded among the players but not actually modified, is so captivating that you go from incredulous eyebrow-raising (as you unwrap) to astonished eyebrow-raising as you listen to what’s played."

Of all the artists that yet to release a Goldberg, I look forward to Till Fellner most. His Bach recordings on ECM so far are very pleasing, and here on NPR you can hear him playing a truly graceful Pastoral sonata.

Again here is the full playlist, happy listening, and leave a comment if you have other versions to recommend, or any of these versions drove you mad:)


  1. and who are you to have the right to the opinion?

  2. to Anonymous:

    I guess only when one is able to play the piano like Gould that he/she has the right to say that "Mozart didn't die too early, but too late." Or maybe even Gould shouldn't have said that, should he?

    But as a listener, everyone is entitled to have their own opinion to which piece of work and which recording version they like or dislike. Thanks to Spotify, we can get access to many different interpretations that we're curious to hear, this personal blog just offers my humble opinion and some of my playlists that I think maybe someone might also like to check out.

    Just like that.

    If you're looking for professional guides to classical music, I have listed some very good sites in the "Links" section at the right sidebar:)

  3. There's a great harp one too, but sadly not on Spotify (or CD as far as I know, I heard a concert recording on BBC Radio 3)

  4. Hey - you have the harp one! Well done! But you didn't include the other Gould recording from 1981:

  5. Poisoned bait is a common method for controlling rat populations, however is not as effective when there are other food sources around, such as garbage. Poisoned meats have been used for centuries for killing off wolves, birds that were seen to threaten crops, and against other creatures. This can be a problem, since a carcass which has been poisoned will kill not only the targeted animal,شركة مكافحة حشرات بالقصيم شركة مكافحة حشرات بجدة شركة مكافحه النمل الابيض بالقصيم شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بجدة شركة مكافحة حشرات بحائل شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بحائل شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالمدينه المنوره شركة مكافحة حشرات بتبوك شركة مكافحة حشرات بالخرج

    but also every

  6. but also every other animal which feeds on the carcass. Humans have also been killed by coming in contact with poisoned meat, or by eating an animal which had fed on a poisoned carcass. This tool is also used to manage several caterpillars e.g. Spodoptera litura, fruit flies, snails and slugs, crabs etc. شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالرياض شركة رش مبيدات بالرياض شركة نقل عفش بالرياض شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض شركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض

    good good good

  7. Tratar de encontrar el verdadero negocio en bolsos baratos cuando se trata de comprar es un dolor. Conozca el valor o el valor de un bolso de mano. Esto se aplica a cualquier artículo que pueda comprar, pero lo está buscando a un precio reducido.

    Publicada por: Michael Kors Bolsos | Bolsos Michael Kors Outlet | Bolsos Michael Kors Rebajas

    När du känner till den allmänna kostnaden för en handväska, kommer det att ge dig en slags måttskala på hur mycket av en affär du faktiskt får. Fuska inte dig själv och sakna en sann affär. En sann affär skulle du få 75% rabatt på en redan billig handväska med bra material.

    Det postat av: Michael Kors Väska | Michael Kors Väska Rea | Michael Kors Väska Rea

    Il existe une pléthore de détaillants de sacs à main bon marché dans le monde entier qui sont plus que capables d'offrir aux individus les meilleurs moyens par lesquels les sacs à main bon marché sont offerts aux tarifs les plus abordables.

    Il a posté par: Sac Longchamp Femme | Sac Longchamp Pas Cher | Sac Longchamp Solde