Käte van Trich presents here a recording of Bachís
greatest keyboard work. the Goldberg Variations, played on the
organ. A rare disc indeed, since there are few organ recordings of this
This recording just doesnít work for me. While the
Goldbergs can be played on a variety of keyboard instruments, Käte
van Trichís performance comes over as stiff and ponderous. The subtle
notes of the aria donít work well at all on the organ - this instrument
makes them too long and heavy, compared with the lightness in this piece
that is heard on harpsichord or piano.
The organ also flattens all the notes, leaving no possibilities
for dynamics - although there are many possibilities for variety in
registration. The tempi chosen by Trich just donít seem to work; they
all seem too slow, even for the slower variations. Again, this is because
of the organ and the way its notes are sustained. But this shows, in
my opinion, that, even though most of Bachís keyboard works stand up
well to versions on different instruments, this is one that just doesnít
fit for the organ.
The 3rd variation, for example, which is usually played
with a certain amount of vigour, sounds here like an organ chorale,
with the bass notes overwhelming the treble melody and eliminating the
relief from the incisive notes of the right-hand part.
The cascading melodies of the beginning of the 11th
variation work well on the organ; but, after the first few measures,
they get lost in the overall sound, drowned out by the bass notes. While
the recording is clear, it seems that it is just the nature of the organ
that does not work with this particular score.
This disc is a curiosity; few recordings have been
made of the Goldberg Variations for organ. But the result shows why
this is the case. The music just does not work on this instrument, the
notes just donít fit on the organ. This is a disappointing recording,
best left alone, except for those who are truly fans of organ music.