Author Topic: Bach Goldberg Variations  (Read 38326 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Mystery

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 64
Bach Goldberg Variations
« on: December 03, 2007, 11:56:08 AM »
Hello all,

Which is your favourite Goldberg variation and why? Would you listen to this work in its entirety as a work or rather leave it as background, falling asleep music, as was originally intended? Do you view this as 'Good Bach'? Is it typical? Just interested in all general reactions really...!

Mark

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2007, 12:02:50 PM »
Don has more than 100 versions. He'll be along shortly, I'm sure. ;D

Offline Mystery

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 64
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2007, 12:06:45 PM »
WHAT?  :o

Mark

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2007, 12:07:30 PM »
WHAT?  :o

I kid you not. Don loves Bach. The Goldberg Variations especially. 0:)

Offline orbital

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2469
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2007, 12:11:17 PM »
Hello all,

Which is your favourite Goldberg variation and why?

You mean favorite recordings, or within the work itself? If the latter, I don't think it makes much sense to listen to seperate variations, but I'm rather fond of the slow variation near the end (no25, 26  ::)  ???)

I guess it is considered to be one of BAch's crowning achivements. But I find the work a bit too pedantic, and generally do not have the patience to listen to t from start to finish.

karlhenning

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2007, 12:23:16 PM »
And Don never sleeps to the Goldbergs  $:)

You misspeak a bit. This is not 'music intended to induce sleep';  this is music to listen to if you find that you cannot sleep.  There is a difference  8)

Offline Norbeone

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 338
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2007, 12:37:47 PM »
Hello all,

Which is your favourite Goldberg variation and why? Would you listen to this work in its entirety as a work or rather leave it as background, falling asleep music, as was originally intended? Do you view this as 'Good Bach'? Is it typical? Just interested in all general reactions really...!

I don't have a favourite variation, i'm afraid (or not afraid?). I usually listen to it in its entirety or at least in fairly large sections because it is much more satisfying this way.

Is it good Bach? It is utterly mesmerizing Bach, and one of my all time favourites, especially Gould's '81 recording, which further neccesitates a complete listening because of his treatment of the work as a whole.

I could go on for ages about the work, but I won't..... ;)

Offline Mystery

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 64
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2007, 12:42:17 PM »
I did mean favourite variation (to play as well as listen?). I tend to like the canons, but maybe I just like that style of composition in general. However, favourite recordings would also be interesting and appreciated :-)

Don

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2007, 12:42:49 PM »
Hello all,

Which is your favourite Goldberg variation and why? Would you listen to this work in its entirety as a work or rather leave it as background, falling asleep music, as was originally intended? Do you view this as 'Good Bach'? Is it typical? Just interested in all general reactions really...!

I've responded so many times to the first question above that I'll leave it be for now.  I always listen to the entire work with 100% concentration; it's much too good to hear as background music.  Besides, it was only intended as "falling asleep music" for a particular insomniac, and it's quite possible that the music's purpose was to entertain the insomniac.  Of course, it's now the 21st century, and intentions back in the 18th century are not very relevant in present time.  Also, these variations veer so far from the original theme/aria that I can't imagine anyone getting much insight from the music without concentrated listening.

"Good Bach"?  About the best of Bach along with many other Bach works such as the WTC, Liepzig Chorales, Cello Suites, Mass in B minor, St. Matthew Passion, etc.  Really, the list of superlative Bach pieces is very, very, long.

I find the Goldbergs highly typical of Bach: wonderful melodies, expert construction and wide-ranging emotional content from the underbelly of the human condition to the highest levels of spirituality.

Now I return to the matter of excellent recordings.  As has been noted, I have over 100 versions and the list keeps growing.  I either greatly admire or love each of them.  However, most folks just want a few (at most) recordings.  Here's my top picks:

Glenn Gould(piano):  Sony "55", Sony "59" and Sony "81".  If forced to choose, I'd take the Sony "81".  Gould's greatness in this work comes from his ability to elevate the significance of lower voices without depreciating the soprano voice.

Rosalyn Tureck (piano):  She has two or three versions on VAI Audio and one on the Philips Great Pianists of the Century series.  Although each is a winner, my preference is for her most recent account on DG.  What makes Tureck a fantastic Bach pianist is her diving into the architecture of each piece while also fully conveying emotional content.

Andras Schiff (piano):  His ECM version is about the most positive and exuberant one I know - very uplifting.  Avoid the Decca/Penguin release; this one is his earliest effort and not very rewarding.

Tatiana Nikolayeva (piano): Her Classico version; it's prime quality is "insistent".  Forget her Hyperion effort that is rather choppy.  I'm currently getting into her version on BBC Legends, but not enjoying it as much as the Classico.

Simone Dinnerstein (piano):  The most interesting I've heard over the past few years: trance-like interpretations mixed with a virtuosity second to none.  You never know what she'll do next.

Fingers are getting tired so I'll just list the harpsichord versions I favor:

Gilbert/Harmonia Mundi
Hantai/Naive (optimistic) and Mirare (searching)
Leonhardt/various versions, each captivating.
Frisch/Alpha Productions
Vartolo/Tactus
Dantone/Decca
Rousset/Decca
Ross/Virgin Veritas
Richter/Teldec
Verlet/Astree

If super-budget is your thing:

James Friskin (piano) on Vanguard.  Skip the Jando on Naxos.



Don

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2007, 12:50:05 PM »
I did mean favourite variation (to play as well as listen?).

Sorry, I had no idea that you were talking about particular variations of the work.  Personally, I find the aria and each of the variations top-rate Bach; that's why I collect so many versions.  Also, which variation I prefer at any point in time is dictated by the performance I'm listening to.  As an example, there's one variation that Schiff does in his earlier Decca version (can't remember the one) that I consider the best of any on record.  That's why I keep this relatively lesser recording.

Anyways, here's a number: Variation 30 - it's majesty and joyous nature has no peers.

Don

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2007, 01:09:48 PM »
Mystery:

What's your preference concerning observing repeats in the Goldbergs.  All of them? None? Some? Only first section repeats?  Only second section repeats?

Also, how do you like performers to vary the repeats?

Offline jochanaan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4702
    • Musician, Music Instructor and Piano Tuner
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2007, 01:37:50 PM »
Fingers are getting tired so I'll just list the harpsichord versions I favor:

Gilbert/Harmonia Mundi
Hantai/Naive (optimistic) and Mirare (searching)
Leonhardt/various versions, each captivating.
Frisch/Alpha Productions
Vartolo/Tactus
Dantone/Decca
Rousset/Decca
Ross/Virgin Veritas
Richter/Teldec
Verlet/Astree
What about the classic Wanda Landowska recording, originally on RCA?
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Offline 71 dB

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5748
  • I free-think, therefore I am free
    • Soundcloud
  • Location: Helsinki, Finland
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2007, 01:38:01 PM »
Glenn Gould(piano):  Sony "55", Sony "59" and Sony "81".  If forced to choose, I'd take the Sony "81".  

Now there is also Sony "06". I borrowed this "re-performance" and it is mind-blowing! I am going to buy it myself.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page

Mark

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2007, 01:45:27 PM »
Skip the Jando on Naxos.

Couldn't agree more. It's truly awful.

Offline Norbeone

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 338
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2007, 01:53:03 PM »
Mystery:

What's your preference concerning observing repeats in the Goldbergs.  All of them? None? Some? Only first section repeats?  Only second section repeats?

Also, how do you like performers to vary the repeats?

I'll answer this, if I may.

I generally like Gould's approach in his '81 - his repeating of most of the first sections. The fact that he never repeats the second doesn't bother me.

If the performer chooses to repeat a section, I see no good reason that they should not do something different, though most do, thankfully.

I generally love Gould's way of choosing to highlight a different voice in the repeat, and his occassional ornaments are delightful bonuses. Though, his repeat of the first section of variation 10, the fughetta, doesn't do much different, which is one of the VERY few faults I can think of.

The way he detatches the left hand notes (and some of the upper matieral) in the first slow movement (I forget which one) is quite beautiful.

All in all, Gould's '81 recording of the Golberg's in in my top.....1 CDs. Close to absolute perfection, and one of the few performances that comes close to the quality of the work itself, if I dare say so.

 :)

Mark

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2007, 01:57:32 PM »
All in all, Gould's '81 recording of the Golberg's in in my top.....1 CDs. Close to absolute perfection, and one of the few performances that comes close to the quality of the work itself, if I dare say so.

 :)

Damn you and your advocacy of this recording. Now I'm gonna have to play it. >:( ;D

Offline Lethevich

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9758
  • I spilled my drink!
  • Currently Listening to:
    Rihm, Bialas, Ballif, Schumann, Schubert
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2007, 02:22:07 PM »
Can anyone recommend two recordings - one using a (relatively) high amount of repeats, and the other using a low amount? I am not familiar enough with the piece to be aware of any real differences.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Drasko

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2007, 02:25:17 PM »
Any opinions on differences between Scott Ross (Erato) & Scott Ross (EMI/Virgin).

I'm thinking getting one of them, but which?

thanks

Don

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2007, 02:45:09 PM »
What about the classic Wanda Landowska recording, originally on RCA?

I've never been particularly fond of that one, although I do realize that it is considered a classic.

Don

  • Guest
Re: Bach Goldberg Variations
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2007, 02:51:25 PM »
Now there is also Sony "06". I borrowed this "re-performance" and it is mind-blowing! I am going to buy it myself.

Yes, Sony "06" as long as folks know that's it's simply the Gould "55" all gussied up to not sound like an historical recording.  Personally, I think it's only part Gould.  Let's face it - this tinkering around with the sound takes some of the fizz out of the performance.