Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750)
John Metz (harpsichord)
20 bit recording.Recording date not available.DDD
Everyone must know by now that this year marks the 250th anniversary of the
death of J.S.Bach. Record companies everywhere seem to have pulled out all
the stops to mark the year and more Bach CDs appear constantly. So, forgive
the slightly jaundiced view if the thought of another Goldberg
Variations doesn't exactly set the pulse racing. In fact, this particular
recording for review was made in 1998 and has just come my way so that little
moan isn't valid.
This version of the Goldberg is another of the series of discs issued
by the Soundset Label of Arizona. Possibly because the U.S. is such a big
country the label largely appears to draw on regional talents - in this case
John Metz, who is Professor of Harpsichord at Arizona State University as
well as having an active career as harpsichord soloist and continuo player
throughout the United States.
The Goldberg Variations for those who do not know it, is a stated
theme, the Aria, (a Sarabande) that is then followed by 30 variations
that do everything the mind of man could devise on a keyboard.. There are
canons to the left of' 'em, canons to the right of 'em, canons inverted and
converted, all based upon the bottom line of the Aria.
Dr. Metz is a player of some stature and his performance was one to enjoy.
The opening Aria - such a deceptively simple little melody but so
utterly absorbing - was taken slowly, almost fastidiously. With repeats
throughout the soloist plays in a measured, controlled way but relaxed a
little in Variation 7 al Tempo di Giga. The Fugetta (Var 10) was
a model of clarity while the penultimate track, Quodlibet (Var 30) has the
mind working out the combinations of the two melodies. The sound from the
keyboard (a modern instrument) is well captured in an excellent recording
- 20 bit for the technically minded.
An excellent performance but this is a very crowded section of the market-place.
The best advice if you want a recording of the Goldberg Variations
played with a harpsichord is to listen to this and as many as you can.