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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 [73:54]
Lori Sims (piano)
rec. live, Dalton Centre Recital Hall, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, 3 January 2015
TWO PIANISTS RECORDS TP1039244 [73:54]

I am going to admit to musical heresy here by stating that I was put off the Goldberg Variations, when performed on the piano, after listening to a certain Canadian’s famous 1955 recording. What’s more, I don’t think much of his later effort either. This has led to a love-hate relationship with the work. Whilst I really enjoy the Variations when performed on a harpsichord, I am still looking for a piano version which will stand repeated playing. I suppose the nearest I have come to realising this is in Murray Perahia’s version for Sony (SK 89243) but I am afraid that even his spirited performance doesn’t quite hit the mark.

I now have more versions of the Goldberg played on the piano than I do on the harpsichord. Maybe it’s because I still await hearing one which comes near to the perfection I find in my most highly regarded harpsichord version, that of Christophe Rousset (Decca 475 7079). On the other hand it might be that I find the piano too heavy an instrument for this, my favourite of Bach’s keyboard works. Either way I find the work more fulfilling when performed on the instrument for which it was composed.

As mentioned above, I find that Perahia is the most insightful of pianists when it comes to this most seminal of works. Here I find Lori Sims gives a good performance and she has a lightness of touch at times which I find refreshing. Sadly there are also occasions where I find her playing a little on the heavy side, and it is this which for me, detracts from what would otherwise have been very good. I got the feeling that on these few occasions she was letting the piano speak rather than Bach’s wonderful music. If I was hearing her perform it live I would be very happy and feel it to be a most enjoyable concert. However, as a recording it lacks that edge that I find in the Perahia disc.

The sound is captured faithfully and Sims has written good notes to accompany this recording.

Stuart Sillitoe



 

 




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