> BACH Goldberg variations Dershavina [KM]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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  Founder: Len Mullenger

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Ekaterina Dershavina, piano
Rec: November 1994, Musikstudio 1 of the Saarländischer Rundfunk.
ARTE NOVA 74321 34011 2 [77.13]


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Ekaterina Dershavina is a young pianist who has won several prizes, yet has not established a reputation as a recording artist. This may actually be her only disc so far.

Dershavina accords a rhythmic approach to the Goldberg Variations. She is incisive, lively and energetic in the faster variations, and subtly smooth in the slow variations. Her tempi are relatively rapid - without being Gouldian - but, in most cases, she seems right at home with these rhythms. There are a couple of occasions when she seems to lose the rhythmic flow in fast passages - as in variation 26 - but overall she has a very nice touch.

Dershavina’s dynamics are well-suited to this work. She varies her dynamics well, both within individual variations and between them. She has just the right touch in variation 5, a rapid, flowing piece. Her performance of variation 15, a blinding piece with runs up and down the keyboard, is one of the most breathtaking I have ever heard. In general, she negotiates very well the faster pieces, giving them an energy that is rare in piano recordings.

She shows a great feeling for elaborate yet not overdone ornamentation. She is certainly a virtuoso pianist, but has the humility to not show it. In some of the variations, such as variation 9, she uses florid ornamentation, but it never sounds excessive.

Dershavina plays variation 25, the longest of the set, with great tenderness. She seems to stroke the music lovingly, giving it a gentle, sensual interpretation, phrasing the melodies carefully yet with great conviction. In the repeats of this variation she strays from the text a bit, adding subtle nuances that flow with the music in perfect harmony. This is perhaps the best performance of this variation I have ever heard on the piano.

There is something impalpable in this performance of the Goldberg Variations. Ekaterina Dershavina gives a fine performance of this work, perhaps one of the best available on the piano. She allies both subtle phrasing, for the slow variations, and breathtaking energy for the fast ones. In spite of a few small moments where the magic is lost, this is a brilliant recording, and at a budget price as well! Snap it up for a rare example of pianistic excellence.

Kirk McElhearn

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