Bach: Goldberg Variations

Bach: Goldberg Variations

by Jean Rondeau Jean Rondeau
Bach: Goldberg Variations

Bach: Goldberg Variations

by Jean Rondeau Jean Rondeau


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The appropriately named (for Baroque music) harpsichordist Jean Rondeau plays jazz in addition to classical music, and perhaps that shows in his reading of Bach's "Goldberg Variations, BWV 988." There is a distinctive freedom to his approach. Rondeau takes all of the repeats, and he often shades them differently from the first statements of the music. His opening Aria is very slow, as if forging a vessel that will be filled as the music proceeds. The tempos otherwise are normal, and filling the musical space is what Rondeau does, with rich, complex readings of the individual variations. These each have their own character, but he does not neglect the larger sets of three marked by the nine canons and the quodlibet. Rondeau also has an excellent sense of the long line, with the whole thing reaching a powerful climax in the 29th variation and then relaxing on a higher plane. It adds up to a performance in which he has no trouble holding the hearer's interest over an hour and 45 minutes and to one that has an enduringly fascinating effect of Golden Age pianism transferred to the harpsichord. Rondeau's instrument, a 2006 copy of German models by Jonte Knif and Arno Pelto, has the power to execute Rondeau's ideas, but it sounds rather harsh; the Notre-Dame de Bon Secours church in Paris is not the right venue for music that, whether or not one buys the story of a Russian ambassador commissioning the work for performance in his bedroom by the titular Goldberg, is inward chamber music of the deepest kind.

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Product Details

Release Date: 02/25/2022
Label: Erato
UPC: 0190296508110
catalogNumber: 650811
Rank: 6611


  1. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard, BWV 988 (BC L9) (Clavier-Übung IV)

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