MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

alternatively Crotchet

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Goldberg Variations, BWV988 (1742, arr. string trio by Dmitry Sitkovetsky)
Julian Rachlin (violin); Nobuko Imai (viola); Mischa Maisky (cello)
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, February 2006. DDD
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6378 [80:08]

A fairly recent performance - November last year - at London's Wigmore Hall of Sitkovetsky's string trio arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations given by the Leopold String Trio proved revelatory. Although there have been recordings of the arrangement, there have been none with such a high-profile line-up as the present one up for review. Imai and Maisky have long been acknowledged and the huge talent of the younger Julian Rachlin joins the team for a stimulating traversal which only just fits onto one disc - note the playing time of just over eighty minutes!
The Theme is given an emaciated delivery, as if stripped to the very barest of bones, simply inviting elucidation. In the hands of Rachlin, Imai and Maisky it begins a journey that is more harrowing than most.
The massive gusto with which Maisky launches into the tenth variation (Fughetta) exemplifies the scale of this performance to perfection, its ruggedness definitely foreshadowed by the determination of the very first variation. The recording, too, is fairly beefy - the church acoustic is identifiably there, but the microphones are mightily close. So close in fact that evey little bow movement and attack is readily audible. Luckily no-one grunts! All this is not to imply that there are no pianissimi – far from it, but the quieter moments do rather seem to be there just to rest the ear.
The second longest variation (XIII) verges on the hymnic. There is certainly about it more than a hint of the devotional. The viola and cello's chasing each other in the eleventh variation is almost playful – until what sounds like added reverb gives it a slightly spooky effect. The Ouverure (Variation XVI) has plenty of grandeur; Variation XXVI is pure virtuosity all round; the pizzicati of Variation XIX are positively delicious! Yet, on the debit side, I would have welcomed more of a sense of play at times - particularly Variation XXIII, which precedes two notably restrained variations. Adagio Variation XXV is arguably over-Romanticised - it lasts 7'39; the last Variation, XXX, suffers from more of the same. The return of the Aria, though, makes its point, leaving one at the end again speechless in the face of Bach's unending invention.
If there is a central criticism it is that Maisky has a tendency to dig relentlessly into anything that is marked around forte and on his lowest string. It sounds like he had a fine old time, but it can get a touch tiring; the close recording emphasises this.
Unfortunately I have not been able to hear Maisky's other recording of this on Orfeo, with the arranger (Sitkovetsky) on violin. There is much to admire on the present release, but alas I cannot justify a full recommendation.
Colin Clarke




Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.