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J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations

Album Summary

>Bach, Johann Sebastian : Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Performer Composer
Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Keith Jarrett (soprano saxophone, piano).

Wanda Landowska brought the Goldbergs out of hiding on the harpsichord in the '40s and Glenn Gould made them a bonafide hit on the piano in the '50s, opening the floodgates for keyboardists of all stripes. So, in one of his earlier recorded voyages into the classical world, Keith Jarrett is up against an imposing legacy as he tackles what has become the most famous set of variations in Western music. First, he chooses to play them on a double-manual harpsichord -- which makes the task somewhat easier, avoiding the finger-tangling cross hand difficulties that can trip up a piano performance. Second, he doesn't seem to treat the Goldbergs as a single cycle, inserting pauses between each variation to create 30 little pieces, bookended by the two renditions of the aria (which is perfectly acceptable). He's not in any hurry, not tempted to showboat or flaunt his considerable technique -- and in no way does this jazz pianist try to make the variations swing a la Jacques Loussier. The added ornamentation seems to be random and so are his observance of the repeats; he only does so in ten of the variations. As a result, we are left with a technically adept, sometimes aimless, intelligently conceived, ultimately not very moving or exhilarating rendition of the music -- a confirmation of Jarrett's keyboard prowess for his fans, but not much in the way of competition for the brass ring among Goldbergs. ~ Richard S. Ginell


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Works Details

>Bach, Johann Sebastian : Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
  • Performer: Keith Jarrett (Harpsichord)
  • Running Time: 56 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: 1741