The CD combines Bach's Goldberg Variations with the Metamorphosis of Philip Glass and offers a confrontation between two completely different musical worlds.
The arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, for string trio by Russian violinist and composer Dmitry Sitkovetsky has taken on a life of its town, with multiple performances and even a sort of electronic remix by Karlheinz Essl. The appeal for string chamber groups longing to share in Bach's riches is obvious, and for audiences it appears to be another case of Bach's music standing up to whatever you do to it. Like most other annotators, Hyperion's Nigel Simeone tries to claim that the arrangement is on a par with the numerous transcriptions Bach made of his own works. It is no such thing; the string chamber texture by its nature adds expressive devices that were not of Bach's world, and he would have found Sitkovetsky's version bizarre.
Pianist Lars Vogt presents one of the classic works of the Baroque repertoire – Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685–1750) famous Goldberg Variations. Originally written for the harpsichord the Goldberg Variations, published in 1741, embody an Aria with 30 variations and a coda. Bach wrote the work for Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who, as the narrative says, often played music as a cure for Count Kaiserling’s insomnia. Apparently the work was one of the successes that Bach had during his lifetime and it was also published during his lifetime.
The title alone is enough to make the heart beat a little faster. It is not coincidental that many music lovers have just this work as a centre in their private musical universe, a piece they return to again and again, always to find something new. A set of variations which stretches the limits; old man Bach with the powers to make the variation-form a display of pure music. This release concludes Ketil Haugsand"s recordings of all Bach"s "Clavierübung" on harpsichord for Simax Classics. The two earlier releases became reference recordings over-night, and Goldberg really is the jewel of the crown. As always Haugsand"s interpretation is no scratching the surface, but taking you through to the deeper layers of this music in breathing and singing phrases, along the map drawn up by Bach.
The Goldberg Variations are a pinnacle of Bach’s art. Conceived for harpsichord, the work has been transcribed for quite different instruments. . . Richard Boothby’s version for his own consort of viols, Fretwork, is arguably the most unusual, in that it opts for a soundworld that looks even further back in time. Part of the justification for such a setting must be Bach’s own liking for viola da gamba, already then old-fashioned…. Boothby’s setting is dexterously divided between various combinations of the treble, tenor and bass viols, and he achieved some magical effects, notably (…) in variations of gossamer passagework.
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.
The Russian-born violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky, who founded the New European Strings Chamber Orchestra in 1990, has enthusiastically practiced the art of transcription for many years, producing more than 25 new string arrangements of chamber and keyboard works. This is Sitkovetsky’s first project for Nonesuch, a creative adaptation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations for strings, cast a fresh light on that formidable monument of keyboard music. The New York Times called it “robust, joyous and full of insight.”