J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Goldberg Variations

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Christophe Rousset
Individual Works:Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:L'Oiseau-Lyre
Comments:Ng Yeuk Fan said:

Invoking performance, after you have listened to Glen Gould, VAI's Bach specialist, Tatiana Nikolaevy etc.

Peter Holmes said:

This is definitely an interpretation that commands respect. Rousset is an enormously talented player. The instrument, an original 1751 Hemsch, is simply gorgeous, and the recording superb.
For anyone used to earlier recordings on the harpsichord, such the ones by Leonhardt, Rousset in comparison takes a highly extroverted and practical-minded approach to these variations. The music has fantastic rhythmic drive and purpose, driven by excellent articulation, phrasing and ornamentation. This is not to say that these variations lack lyricism or other forms of expression ? far from it. It simply means that Rousset's interpretation emphasizes their architecture rather than their message. This pays off handsomely in certain variations, and falls short in others where meaning is more important than structure. Along with this, the overall tempi are somewhat on the hurried side, an impression enhanced by the formal quality of the music. Several variations, such as the third, fifth and eighth, to my mind simply come unravelled in the heady blur of notes. Contrast these with the Pierre Hantai or the Scott Ross recordings, for instance, where the message in these variations comes out naturally, effortlessly, because the speed is "just right" for its expression.
Still, a highly recommended recording if for nothing else than its sheer exuberance, drive and virtuosity.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Ng Yeuk Fan
  • Peter Holmes
Date First Submitted:11/22/1996