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Goldberg Variations BWV 988

Rosalyn Tureck (Piano)

Young Rosalyn Tureck’s Goldberg Variations

K-5

Rosalyn Tureck II: Bach (Great Pianists of the 20th Century)

1. Duets BWV 802-805 [3:30, 3:44, 3:45, 3:10]
2. French Overture (Partita) in B minor BWV 831 [33:48]
3. Italian Concerto in F major BWV 971 [13:32]
4. Goldberg Variations BWV 988 [93:58 / 93:45]

Rosalyn Tureck (Piano)

Philips (from HMV/Capitol)

Jun, Aug 1957 [4]; Jun 1959 [1-3]

2-CD / TT: 155:45

2nd recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988 by R. Tureck. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, England. 1st recording of Italian Concerto BWV 971 by R. Tureck.
Review: Tureck vs harpsichord in the Goldbergs
Discussions: Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - played by Rosalyn Tureck
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Donald Satz wrote (September 2, 1999):
I posted about two months ago on Tureck's new DG recording of the Goldberg Variations. I found them superbly played: total command, full identification with the idiom, fantastic part playing, and a dry sound which suits the performances perfectly. Most impressive, Tureck extensively used staccato, but I heard no choppiness or fragmentation of line - just a coherent whole and a "flow" to kill for. If she isn't the "high priestess" of Bach keyboard playing, nobody is.

Now, Philips, as part of its Great Pianists series offers us Tureck's late 1950's account of the Goldbergs recorded in England. In addition, she plays the French Overture, Italian Concerto, and the Four Duets. Does 40 years make a big difference? Not in this case. The older performance is less austere and more poetic and nuanced. The newer recording is more commanding, mature, and provides better sound. But, it's still Tureck and the differences are not profound.

So, I find myself in a bit of a quandry. I'm very glad to have both versions, but I think that many listeners would consider having both to be superfluous.

Don's conclusions:

Tureck Fans - Both Versions - Must Buy.
Bach Fans - DG - Must Buy.
Philips - Worthy of Purchase.

 

Feedback to the Review

Ray Bayles wrote (September 2, 1999):
[To Donald Satz] If you only have money for one, the 1950's Tureck is clearly superior to her recent recording... clearly... I don't understand how you can hold them up as so similar because to me they clearly are not... what good is slightly better sound if the performance is dull ... her creative power blooms in the 50's version... Most dedicated Bach people couldn't even tell for sure that her recent recording is even by her... just another Goldberg.

I don't disagree with you often, Donald, but this one stunned me.

Gerardo Constantini wrote (September 3, 1999):
Donald Satz wrote:
< I posted about two months ago on Tureck's new DG recording of the Goldberg Variations. I found them superbly played: total command, full identification with the idiom, fantastic part playing, and a dry sound which suits the performances perfectly. >
Tureck is very interesting, but for me she sounds most times more "scholar" than a "great artist" She uses the style perfectly (of course in this topic nobody have the last word), but very few times she make me feel an emotional context on it: Don't forget Bach was not only Brain, but a big soul too.

John Dalmas wrote (September 4, 1999):
Donald Satz wrote:
<If she (Rosalyn Tureck) isn't the "high priestess" of Bach keyboard playing, nobody is. >
Sheesh! I haven't read anybody wax so profusely about Tureck since William F. Buckley's frequent paeans for the artist. I have to surprise Don and say I like Andras Schiff's recording of the Goldbergs on London (but also several others ahead of Tureck).

Donald Satz wrote (September 5, 1999):
Gerardo Constantini wrote:
<Tureck is very interesting, but for me she sounds most times more "scholar" than a "great artist". She uses the style perfectly (of course in this topic nobody has the last word), but very few times she makes me feel an emotional context on it: Don't forget Bach was not only Brain, but a big soul too. >
I never forget that fact, and I don't think Tureck does either. Certain artists tend to get an "academic/scholarly" reputation, and we think that they slight the emotional and spontaneous areas of music. Tureck does no such thing. Whether it's the Philips or DG recording, I hear a superb pianist who digs into Bach and extracts a wonderful range of emotions. I feel them when I listen to her, and that's all I need to arrive at the conclusion that she marries the scholarly and emtional just fine. Yes, Ray, that includes the recent DG recording as well - keep listening, you might find it.

Donald Satz wrote (September 3, 1999):
< Ray Bayles, not taking well to my Tureck review: If you only have money for one, the 1950's Tureck is clearly superior to >her recent recording... clearly... I don't understand how you can hold them up as so similar because to me they clearly are not... what good is >slightly better sound if the performance is dull... >
I did not indicate that the sound on DG was "slightly better". I referred to it as "perfect". I never said anything highly favorable concerning the Philips sound.

< ... her creative power blooms in the 50's version... >
I fully agree, and I say it continues to bloom.

< Most dedicated Bach people couldn't even tell for sure that her recent >recording is even by her... just another Goldberg. >
Obviously, I can't explain why I immediately noticed strong similarities with both recordings; I heard it and felt it. Evidently, Ray and others hear and feel no such thing. Am I delusional or musically insightful? I know it's the latter (that could be part of my delusion).

Up to this point I'm taking Ray's criticisms in stride. But, it does irk me when I read that the DG performance is "dull" and "just another Goldberg". I consider those comments quite inaccurate. To me, a "just another Goldberg" would be of the mainstream variety with the usual tempos, degree of legato/staccato, etc. Tureck/DG is simply not a mainstream performance - like it or not like, that's fine, but this "just another" theme is wrong.

< I don't disagree with you often, Donald, but this one stunned me. >
The last thing I want to do is play any part in another person buying a recording he/she does not like. All I can do is impart my basic feelings of the recording in an honest and hopefully understandable manner. The connection I felt with the two recordings at issue was a strong one, and I would have been negligent not to highlight it in my review. I stand by everything I wrote in the review.

Remaining with Bach, I plan to post a "thorough" review of the new WTC, Book I performed by Sergey Schepkin on Ongaku. I will be explaining what each prelude and fugue means to me, how I think each works best when performed, and how Mr. Schepkin handles it all. This will contradict my "be concise" preference, but I'll try to be compact.

On last thing about the Tureck recordings. I'll be enjoying both of them for many years, Ray will not: Advantage - Don.

Donald Satz wrote (September 6, 1999):
John Dalmas wrote in response to me:
< If she isn't the "high priestess" of Bach keyboard playing, nobody is. Sheesh! I haven't read anybody wax so profusely about Tureck since Wiliam F. Buckley's frequent paeans for the artist. >
John appears to have a problem every time I write something very complimentary about an artist or composer. Since I'm going to continue voicing a "high" opinion whenever I consider it warranted, I do hope John becomes accustomed to it. Just for clarification, what emotion does "sheesh!" convey?

< I have to surprise Don and say I like Andras Schiff's recording of the Goldbergs on London (but also several others ahead of Tureck). >
Schiff's is a fine reading. I think he does even better the 2 and 3-part Inventions. Bach is one of the composers Schiff does best, and for "mainstream" Bach interpretations, I consider Schiff the best active pianist around. I'm also quite taken with his Mozart piano concerto series with Vegh, and his new Haydn piano sonata set.

Chris Bonds wrote (September 6, 1999):
John Dalmas wrote in response to me:
< If she isn't the "high priestess" of Bach keyboard playing, nobody is. Sheesh! I haven't read anybody wax so profusely about Tureck since >>Wiliam F. Buckley's frequent paeans for the artist. >>
< Donald Satz wrote: John appears to have a problem every time I write something very complimentary about an artist or composer. [etc.] >
I've been listening to Tureck's recording of the Partitas on the "great pianists" series. I never gave her a lot of credit when i was in college because a lot of my fellow students were swooning over her playing and holding her up as a supreme authority. I was then and am now suspicious of any form of performer idolatry and so pretty much refused even to listen. What little I did hear I don't remember what I thought of. Now I can hear the wonderful way in which she makes each strand of the counterpoint stand out crystal clear. Sometimes she articulates too much for my taste but her vision and execution of the music is always consistent and the result of a lifetime of thought about how the music should go. That is what I admire in a performer and I'm willing to set aside my personal preferences (which change over the years just as I change and mature as a person) in order to enjoy the spectacle of a great musical mind in action. If one thinks of great performers as the pinnacle of human achievement in music that is preferable to thinking of them as gods and goddesses. Who can rise to the level of a god? But we're all human. I don't like the idea of priests and priestesses either (although some performers, Tureck included, have no doubt tacitly encouraged the label). It suggests too much that music is an esoteric art the deepest secrets of which are revealed only to a select few. While it's no doubt true that there are only a few truly "great" performers at any time, it can't be an exclusive club or no one would ever be encouraged to give it a shot.

Andrys Basten wrote (September 8, 1999):
Chris Bonds wrote:
< I've been listening to Tureck's recording of the Partitas on the "great pianists" series. I never gave her a lot of credit when i was in college because a lot of my fellow students were swooning over her playing and >holding her up as a supreme authority. I was then and am now suspicious of >any form of performer idolatry and so pretty much refused even to listen. >
It's another form of having others decide what you do or don't listen to because of their reactions, in this case their high regard for something and your distrust of others' enthusiasms.

< What little I did hear I don't remember what I thought of. Now I can hear the wonderful way in which she makes each strand of the counterpoint stand out crystal clear. Sometimes she articulates too much for my taste but her vision and execution of the music is always consistent and the result of a lifetime of thought about how the music should go. >
It's good that you've heard something of what they heard (and that with age you opened up). I haven't thought much about this one at all but someone played, over the phone, for me, the first movement of a Bach partita by her. It was better than I remembered thinking when hearing her some a long time ago.

< enjoy the spectacle of a great musical mind in action. If one thinks of great performers as the pinnacle of human achievement in music that is preferable to thinking of them as gods and goddesses. Who can rise to the level of a god? But we're all human. >
Strange. I don't know people who think of performers as Gods. They may kid about it, but those very people will pick apart certain things their favorite performers will do too. I don't consider that idolatry. I think you may project onto other people who carry high enthusiasms, the god/idolotry thing. Maybe you're keen on not getting too enthusiastic about any performer? Maybe it's the music vs performer focus?

< doubt tacitly encouraged the label). It suggests too much that music is an esoteric art the deepest secrets of which are revealed only to a select few. >
Communicating complex music effectively (whatever that entails for the target audience) is difficult. Some musicians have moved some listeners much more than others, and the effect depends on the inner pulses and emotional or even intellectual responses of the listeners.

We could never agree on what makes a particular artist 'great' to some, though we hear just as often why they are 'not great' to others. The thing that bothers me is that when someone doesn't like one performer's approach, they belittle that performer as if the person had no significance in what they do. Private reservations is one thing, public dismissals of a 100% nature another.

< While it's no doubt true that there are only a few truly "great" performers at any time, it can't be an exclusive club or no one would ever be encouraged to give it a shot. >
Any time you have a smaller grouping because of the difficulty of recognition you'll have a good number of challengers though:)

Donald Satz wrote (September 9, 1999):
Andrys Basten wrote of Tureck:
< I haven't thought much about this one at all but someone played, over the phone for me, the firt movement of a Bach partita by her. It was better than I remembered thinking when hearing her some a long time ago. >
Was that a long distance call? I've heard of "phone sex", but I've never been called by anyone to listen to a piece of music. Andrys must have better friends than I do. [And, a much better phone. -Dave] My friends call to "chat", and I hate chatting on the phone; they call anyways. I get no respect.

Me thinks that my little description (borrowed) of Tureck as the "high priestess of Bach keyboard playing" has led to some comments about how reverently we think of particular artists. Just to clear things up, I don't think reverently of anyone as a person. Yes, I think Tureck is superb in Bach, but that does not make her a superb person (whatever that is). Everyone has deficiences (except me).

Andrys Basten wrote (September 10, 1999):
[To Donald Satz] Really, friends old and new of mine have done this with me ever since I was very young, so we are talking about a half-century here ;-) Our enthusiams run amok. One might say we even 'love' music (which seems to have upset one among us this week).

This one was long-distance and most of them are, but that's not a requirement. Usually it's something unusual one of us wants the other to hear and in this case it was because I wasn't motivated to buy it myself to hear it. I think I will go get the recording at Berkshire Outlet now that I've heard the first movement.

 

Duets BWV 802-805: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001
General Discussions:
Part 1
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Duets - A. Hewitt | Duets - E. Koroliov | Duets - Steurman | Duets - M. Suzuki | Duets - R. Tureck | Duets - G. Weir

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]

Rosalyn Tureck: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Review: WTC Book I - Tureck (1975-1976) | Young Rosalyn Tureck’s Goldberg Variations | Tureck vs harpsichord in the Goldbergs
Discussions of Instrumental Works:
Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - played by Rosalyn Tureck

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Last update: ýOctober 4, 2006 ý10:36:26