Renowned for her exquisite interpretations of the keyboard masterpieces of Johann Sebastian Bach, Angela Hewitt has recorded several of his works for Hyperion not just once, but twice. Hewitt's 1999 recording of the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 was enthusiastically received and reinforced her status as a leading artist with the label. This 2015 recording, like her return visit to Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, shows not so much a change in her overall approach but a thoughtful reappraisal of the finer points of touch, ornamentation, articulation, dynamics, timbre, and phrasing, which the space of 16 years has afforded her.
This is the debut album from the recently formed Russian-Finnish ensemble La Compangnie Pochette.” The group is made up of violinist Minna Pensola, violist Antti Tikkanen, and violin da spalls Segey Malov. For this release, they have chosen the Goldberg Variations, some of J. S. Bach’s most famous works. The three musicians have arranged the entire variations for their unique instrumentation, and this is the premiere recording of this arrangement.
Bach’s Goldberg Variations have played a central role in harpsichordist Pierre Hantai’s musical life since his early youth. At 28 he recorded the work for the Opus 111 label (now available on Naïve), a highly acclaimed release that stands among the work’s choice versions. Over the past 11 years Hantai evidently has rethought and refined his interpretation, as revealed in this 2003 remake. There’s greater rhythmic freedom and variety of articulation, plus a more subjective approach to ornaments and agogics, especially in the repeats (he observes all but those in Variation 15, 25, and the Aria Da Capo; the 1992 recording honors all repeats save for Variation 25). Variations previously characterized through Hantai’s seamless legato technique (Nos. 3, 6, 8, 11, 17, and 18, for example) are further enlivened by detaché finger strokes and more inflected phrasings. The latter infuse Variations 7, 10, and 16 with greater resilience and rhythmic verve than their earlier counterparts.
Dantone interpretation is easily one of the best I have heard in recent years, and I consider it among the elite harpsichord recordings of the Goldbergs in the catalogs. His interpretations feature a compelling mix of power/energy, rhythmic lift, sharply etched phrasing, poignant refrains, playful episodes, bleak terrains and totally satisfying conversations from Bach's contrapuntal musical lines. I think it is fair to say that Dantone gives us the full measure of Bach's soundworld in excellent sonics that are crisp as well as well as abundantly rich.
In the 21st century, it's easy to take technology for granted and forget that in the time of Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685, d. 1750), there were no cars, busses, airplanes, TVs, radios, movies, tape recorders, electric lights, or computers. People used candles to light their homes, and horses were the fastest way to get around. There were excellent plays and opinionated theater critics to review them, but no cameras to film the actors and actresses. Recording technology had yet to be invented, so the only way to hear classical musicians was to hear them performing live. Although the classical artists of Bach's time could not be recorded, they left behind their compositions, and today's classical musicians continue to keep them alive.
A mind blowing and fiery new quartet featuring Ben Goldberg, one the true pioneers of Radical Jewish Culture whose groundbreaking group New Klezmer Trio proved an important influence on the Masada legacy. Turning his hand to Masada music in this fabulous all star quartet organized, arranged and conducted by Zorn himself, Ben plays like never before, displaying a sensitive virtuosity and a brilliant sense of sound and space. At times moody, intense, meditative, driving, lyrical and atmospheric, this is brilliant Jewish chamber music from four longtime and intimate members of the Masada family. Absolutely stunning!