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Bach: Goldberg Variations

Album Summary

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

Notes & Reviews:

Andreas Staier waited nearly a quarter of a century before playing the Goldberg Variations in public. His long-awaited first performance was in Montreal at the end of April 2000, and this new set for harmonia mundi is his first recording of Bach's keyboard masterpiece. Undoubtedly one of the most prominent harpsichord and fortepiano performers in the world, Staier embarked upon a solo career in 1986 after leaving the acclaimed ensemble Musica Antiqua Koln. Since then, his indisputable musical mastery as a soloist has made its mark on the interpretation of baroque, classical and romantic repertoire. His extensive discography has garnered top critical awards from the international press.

"As a performer on both fortepiano and harpsichord Staier has few peers. So the release of his Goldberg Variations marks an important event in world of historical keyboard. He uses registration to create tangible, graduated dynamics, accentuate compositional structure, and suggest orchestrations and colors beyond solo harpsichord... The CD is accompanied by a DVD where Staier plays an explains his approach to the music; his thoughts on the life and music of Bach are truly illuminating." - American Record Guide

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Teldex Studio Berlin (07/2009).


At last, Staier's Goldbergs!
I have eagerly awaited this recording. I discovered Staier a few years ago, and have become an enthusiastic collector of his recordings. I especially admire his historical knowledge of performance practice, and his belief that instrumental color is an integral part of the music, so that from Bach and Scarlatti through Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, he chooses keyboard instruments that convey the sonority of the period. In this case he plays the Goldbergs on a modern copy of a 1734 harpsichord by the Hamburg maker Albrecht Hass, which he has used in two previous recordings. I find this a stunning performance and recording (the ninth I own of the piece, six on piano and three on harpsichord. While the CD is closely miked, I find this one of the most gorgeous-sounding harpsichord recordings I have ever heard. For me over an hour of harpsichord music can sometimes become unpleasantly clangorous, monotonous, and fatiguing, but not in this case, not with the wonderful variety of colors Staier draws from this instrument (just as he does in his fortepiano recordings, making his Haydn and Mozart performances so delightful and revelatory). This is a recording that has both presence and atmosphere; this harpsichord SOUNDS like a palpable three-dimensional object in space--and I am listening through only two speakers. Using a second CD player, I compared a number of tracks by Christophe Rousset and Staier back to back, and consistently preferred Staier. Next to the color of his playing Rousset, admirable in so many respects, sounds rather monochromatic to me. I have been listening to various versions of the Goldbergs for fifty years, yet Staier's interpretation rekindled by initial awe for this miracle of musical art. A wonderful recording! The CD also comes with a DVD, in which Staier, always an intelligent commentator on the music he plays, discusses the Goldberg variations and demonstrates his points on the harpsichord.
Submitted on 08/20/10 by Markhax 
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Works Details

>Bach, Johann Sebastian : Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
  • Performer: Andreas Staier (Harpsichord)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: 1741