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Unassuming virtuosity

András Schiff plays Bach's 'Goldberg Variations' -
enjoyed by

'... impressive and enviable effortlessness ...'

J S Bach: Goldberg Variations. András Schiff. © 2003 ECM Records GmbH

With so many recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations currently available, you might be forgiven for not knowing quite where to turn. The first decision is whether to go for performances on the two-manual harpsichord for which Bach wrote the work, or the piano which is for me a far more appealing timbre and yet an instrument which challenges the performer to maintain contrapuntal clarity within the limitations of its single keyboard, necessitating formidable manual gymnastics.

If anyone overcomes these limitations with impressive and enviable effortlessness it is András Schiff for whom it is a work he is understandably unable to resist. His first recording was for Decca back in 1982, followed some ten years later by that inspired live video account. This third recording, also live, dates from 2001, and adds to his concept a broader range of colour and, in even greater measure, more of that essential ingredient Bach so clearly intended -- good humoured sheer enjoyment [listen -- track 8, 0:00-0:44].

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Copyright © 15 February 2004 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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