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Goldberg Variations BWV 988
Richard Egarr (Harpsichord)
Goldberg Variations Review: Egarr

K-4

Bach: Goldberg Variations · 14 Canons

 

Goldberg Variations BWV 988 [90:24]
14 Canons on the first 8 fundamental notes of the aria from the Goldberg Variations, BWV 1087 [8:43]

Richard Egarr (Harpsichord)

Harmonia Mundi

Mar 2005

2-CD / TT: 99:07

Recorded at Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente, Haarlem, Holland.
Review: Egarr Goldbergs [B. Lehman]
Review: Richard Egarr Performs Bach's Goldberg Variations [D. Satz]
Review: Goldberg Variations Review: Egarr [P. Bright]
Discussions: Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - played by Richard Egarr
Liner notes at: Harmonia Mundi [PDF]
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Goldberg Variations Review: Egarr

Peter Bright wrote (August 15, 2006):
This recording is, perhaps, most notable for it’s adoption of a system of tuning recently suggested by an early music performer (Bradley Lehman) as being the one that Bach himself instructed performers to adopt. This “sixth comma meantone tuning” theory has already garnered a great deal of interest and I was excited with the prospect of how it might sound – particularly when played by such a fine harpsichordist as Richard Egarr.

On first listen it is probably fair to expect that the relatively untrained ear will not immediate discern anything obviously different in the adopted method of tuning – this was certainly the case for me. Yet, I was overwhelmed in places with the beauty and clarity of Egarr’s playing – and this of course adds credence to Lehman’s theory – it somehow sounds right. With repeated listening, the harmonies seem warmer and the complex vertical structure more transparent. The instrument was also re-voiced with gull quills, providing an opportunity for more subtle and wide-ranging tone and colour. Personally, I find Egarr’s relaxed but subtly expressive style highly convincing and impressive. However, some may feel that he does not provide sufficient forward momentum or the necessary rhythmic variation to hold attention throughout the 90 minute performance. The listener craving a piercing and edgy recording need look no further than Pierre Hantai (either his Naïve or Mirare recordings). Overall, Egarr wins out for me, for his sensitive, nuanced and lyrical performance – beautifully captured by Harmonia Mundi).

Any real disappointment comes from Egarr’s treatment of the darkly chromatic movements, especially the famous “Black Pearl” variation (25). Perhaps it is partly the gull quills, but the deathly atmosphere Bach surely intended to invoke is singularly lacking. The quodlibet (variation 30) is also somewhat disappointing. This piece should provide an uplifting, fluid and joyous climax after all the accumulated motion built up in preceding variations – but this is lost in a rather stilted performance (Murray Perahia is exemplary in his 2000 piano recording for Sony Classical – SK 89243). However, the radiance and restfulness of the reinstated Aria provides a welcome return to the qualities so evident throughout the larger part of this recording: outstanding sensitivity, subtle but rich colour and tone, and beautifully shaped phrasing.

Egarr also includes the Fourteen Canons on the first eight bass notes of the opening Aria of the Goldberg Variations, discovered in 1974. These very short pieces are thoroughly enjoyable (Egarr employs multitracking to enable him to play all required parts), although for a more exciting performance I would thoroughly recommend seeking out the ensemble version led by Michael Behringer on Hänssler (CD 92.133).

 

Goldberg Variations BWV 988: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Quodlibet in GV | GV for Strings
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
GV - Barenboim | GV - P.J. Belder | GV - E. Dershavina | GV - Egarr | GV - Feltsman | GV - C. Frisch | GV - Gould | GV - Hantaï | GV - R. Holloway | GV - J. Jando | GV - Jarrett | GV - Leonhardt | GV - V. Makin | GV - A. Newman | GV - S. Ross | GV Schiff | GV - R. Schirmer | GV - H. Small | GV - G. Sultan | GV - G. Toth | GV - Tureck | GV - Vartolo | GV - Verlet
Review: Goldberg Variations on Piano:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
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 - Cole | GV - Crossland | GV - Dershavina | GV - Egarr [Lehman] | GV - Egarr [Satz] | GV - Egarr [Bright] | GV- Hantai | GV - Hantaï (2nd) | GV - Haugsand | GV - Hewitt | GV - Holloway | GV- Ingolfsdottir | GV - Jando | GV - Leonhardt | GV- Lifschitz | GV - Newman | GV - Nikolayeva 3rd | GV- Payne | GV - Schepkin, Yudina & Serkin | GV - Schiff [ECM] | GV- Small | GV - Suzuki | GV - Toth | GV - Trich | GV - Tureck (Satz) | GV - Tureck (Lehman) | GV- Verlet | GV - Vieru | GV - Vinikour | GV - Weissenberg | GV - Zhu
Article:
The Quodlibet as Represented in Bach’s Final Goldberg Variation BWV 988/30 [by Thomas Braatz]

Richard Egarr: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Review: Harpsichord Works by Richard Egarr | Egarr Goldbergs [B. Lehman] | Richard Egarr Performs Bach's Goldberg Variations [D. Satz] | Goldberg Variations Review: Egarr [P. Bright]
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - played by Richard Egarr

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Last update: ýOctober 19, 2006 ý15:51:13