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Goldberg Variations BWV 988
Played by Anthony Newman
Discussions

K-2

Bach : Goldberg Variations

Goldberg Variations BWV 988

Anthony Newman (Harpsichord)

Columbia / CBS Sony

Jan 1971

LP / TT: 46:37

Newman. Recorded in New York, NY, USA.
1st recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988 by A. 
Review: Newman in Goldbergs, and in general

K-6

Bach: Goldberg Variations

Goldberg Variations BWV 988

Anthony Newman (Harpsichord)

Infinity Digital / Newport Classics / Shape

1985-1986

CD / TT: 55:07

2nd recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988 by A. Newman.
Review: Newman in Goldbergs, and in general
Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com

an exercise in reviewing

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 17, 2003):
Hugo S wrote:
< Look as Mr Lehman says that Helmut Walcha is a typist not a musician.It does not bother me because I admire him and put him in the top 5 hasrpichord players of all times. >
Let's take a look at a CD that Hugo and I have both reviewed (at Amazon.Com, three years ago already!): Amazon.com

That's an Infinity CD of Newman playing the Goldberg Variations.

Hugo gave it five stars, the top possible rating. (And he has already stated here on this list that in his opinion, Newman and Walcha are two of the "top 5 harpsichord players of all time.") OK. Clearly, this CD has made his day with a strong positive impression. [By the way, Hugo, who are the other three of that "top 5"?]

I gave this recording two stars, and noted in my review that I almost gave it only one. Why the disparity between my opinion and Hugo's?

- I have at least 40 of Newman's other recordings, and have met him and heard him in concert. I'm a fan of some of his work. In that perspective, I would judge that the harpsichord is (at most) Newman's own fourth-best medium of artistic expression (after fortepiano, organ, and writing program notes; he also plays clavichord and piano, and conducts and composes). He's outside his own considerable strengths when he's playing harpsichord. (Musically it's often still very good, in a generally impressive manner, but it's not good harpsichord playing specifically.)

- I played this piece myself in concerts several times when I was 20 years old; and I've kept it more or less in shape over the 18 years since then; and I have at least 50 other recordings of it, which I've listened to hundreds of times, both for study and for sheer pleasure. Therefore I feel I know something about the presentation of this work with straight-through continuity. This Newman recording is just a patchwork of small bits, with hardly any flow to it; it seems more like an assemblage than a "performance." That's a big mark against it.

- I have a doctoral degree in this instrument, a performing career on it, and approximately 1000 other harpsichord recordings of various repertoire; therefore I feel that I have some broad perspective on quality in harpsichord performance. This Newman CD is (in that perspective) below average. I've heard worse, and I have also heard MUCH better.

- Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I believe that a rating of five stars out of five should mean something. I don't automatically give five stars to things even if I fancy them. If a product really is not better than the average, compared with the other available options, it really does not merit more than three stars. "Average" has to mean something, just as "below average" and "above average" and "exceptionally terrible" and "exceptionally good" do.

- Newman himself made an earlier recording of the Goldberg Variations (Columbia M 30538, not on CD) that outshines this Infinity remake in every way; and I'd give that earlier recording three stars out of the five, maybe four stars for some of it (but the variation 25 is hopeless). By comparison against Newman's own recorded standard, this Infinity CD is a dud.

At Amazon, what have I given four or five stars to, and why? Here are the reviews.... Amazon.com

I do agree with one of Hugo's other points elsewhere, which is that people are entitled to enjoy whatever they want to. No problem there.

But I feel a reviewer has some responsibility to make carefully reasoned value judgments (from a knowledge of the possibilities), and to point out clearly superior options if they exist, and to explain the reasons behind
that assessment. Otherwise a five-star rating means nothing beyond "I fancy this and I have not yet found anything I like better."

Bart O'Brien wrote (May 17, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Look Bradley, I didn't join the Bach Cantatas group to read this kind of stuff.

I'm getting sick of hearing about your doctorate, and how many recordings you have, and the famous people you know, and how you've been playing some piece for the last 18 years, and what a great reviewer you are.

Try and exercise a bit of self-discipline before you send us all your messages.

Bart O'Brien wrote (May 17, 2003):
Hey, I just checked Amazon.
Bradley forgot to mention that Hugo's is just one of three reviews that all give five stars. The other review is Brad's with two. So average at the moment is 4 1/4.

I never heard of this chap Newman before but I'm beginning to think I might get this CD.

Hugo S wrote (May 17, 2003):
[To Bart O'Brien] Thanks for the above.

By the way, have you seen a Goldberg Variations recorded by a man by the name of Lehman?

If you know about it please let me know...

Best regards

And congratulations for your good taste in music.

Bart O'Brien wrote (May 17, 2003):
Hugo S wrote:
< By the way, have you seen a Goldberg Variations recorded by a man by the name of Lehman? >
Wouldn't that be great? Then we could all post reviews on Amazon, complete with all our university degrees, and how many harpsichords we own, and how many times we've conducted the SMP, and everything . . .

Hugo S wrote (May 17, 2003):
[To Bart O'Brien] I can wait,I bit my finger nails, my legs are shaking,in stutter,I need to rush to the restroom...

That reminds me the case of the keyboard competition that JS BACH had with the french Marchand. It was a show ok skills(a precedent of todays organ competitions) Bach showed up but Marchand left town like a dog runing with the tail in between his legs...

Roland Wörner wrote (May 18, 2003):
[To Bart O'Brien] I agree 100%!

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 18, 2003):
[To Hugo S] A cassette recording of such a performance does exist; but you probably wouldn't like it. It sounds almost nothing like either Walcha's or Newman's....

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 18, 2003):
[To Bart O'Brien] Feel free, nothing's stopping you, it's your money; but Pierre Hantaï's performance is better. :)

Christian Panse wrote (May 18, 2003):
Hugo S wrote:
< like a dog runing with the tail in between his legs... >
PLONK

Aaaaahhh, another one. How relieving. Funny button, this. I start to like the sound it makes - not exactly a Bach cantata, but signalling less disturbances in occupation with them :-)

 

Goldberg Variations BWV 988: Details
Recordings:
1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019
Comparative Review: Goldberg Variations on Piano:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Comparative Review: Round-Up of Goldberg Variations Recordings:
Recordings | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
GV - R. Barami, J. Crossland, O. Dantone, D. Propper | GV - M. Cole | GV - J. Crossland | GV - E. Dershavina | GV - S. Dinnerstein | GV - R. Egarr [Lehman] | GV - R. Egarr [Satz] | GV - R. Egarr [Bright] | GV - Feltsman | GV- P. Hantai | GV - P. Hantaï (2nd) | GV - K. Haugsand | GV - A. Hewitt | GV - R. Holloway | GV- H. Ingolfsdottir | GV - J. Jando | GV - B. Lagacé | GV - G. Leonhardt | GV- K. Lifschitz | GV - A. Newman | GV - T. Nikolayeva 3rd | GV- J. Payne | GV - W. Riemer | GV - C. Rousset | GV - S. Schepkin, M. Yudina & P. Serkin | GV - A. Schiff [ECM] | GV- H. Small | GV - M. Suzuki | GV - G. Toth | GV - K.v. Trich | GV - R. Tureck [Satz] | GV - R. Tureck [Lehman] | GV- B. Verlet | GV - A. Vieru | GV - J. Vinikour | GV - A. Weissenberg | GV - Z. Xiao-Mei
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Quodlibet in GV | GV for Strings
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
GV - D..Barenboim | GV - P.J. Belder | GV - E. Dershavina | GV - S. Dinnerstein | GV - R. Egarr | GV - V. Feltsman | GV - C. Frisch | GV - G. Gould | GV - P. Hantaï | GV - R. Holloway | GV - J. Jando | GV - K. Jarrett | GV - G. Leonhardt | GV - V. Makin | GV - A. Newman | GV - S. Ross | GV - A. Schiff | GV - R. Schirmer | GV - H. Small | GV - G. Sultan | GV - G. Toth | GV - R. Tureck | GV - S. Vartolo | GV - B. Verlet
Article:
The Quodlibet as Represented in Bach’s Final Goldberg Variation BWV 988/30 [T. Braatz]

Anthony Newman: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Newman in Goldbergs, and in general
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - played by Anthony Newman

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Last update: ýMay 31, 2010 ý10:06:01