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Bach: Goldberg Variationen

Bach: Goldberg Variationen

23 Feb 2010

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 25 Feb 2010
  • Label: harmonia mundi
  • Copyright: 2010 Harmonia Mundi
  • Total Length: 1:20:32
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B0039EF0M2
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169,892 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By david alonso on 14 July 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording of the Goldberg Variations by Andreas Staier is fantastic.
The bonus DVD is a great addition, my only regret is that it's duration is too short.
Andreas Staier is a great mind as well as a great musician.
I play this CD in my car, at work, at home, again and again.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
At last, Staier's Goldberg Variations! 23 Mar 2010
By Mark Haxthausen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I, too, have eagerly awaited this recording. I discovered Staier a few years ago, and have become an enthusiastic collector of his recordings. I especially admire his historical knowledge of performance practice, and his belief that instrumental color is an integral part of the music, so that from Bach and Scarlatti through Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, he chooses keyboard instruments that convey the sonority of the period. In this case he plays the Goldbergs on a modern copy of a 1734 harpsichord by the Hamburg maker Albrecht Hass, which he has used in two previous recordings.

Unlike the previous two reviewers I find this a stunning performance and recording (the ninth I own of the piece, six on piano and three on harpsichord, including the one by Rousset mentioned by a previous reviewer). I emphatically do not share his negative opinion of the recording or of the performance. Perhaps it is a matter of one's sound equipment, but, while the CD is indeed closely miked, I find this one of the most gorgeous-sounding harpsichord recordings I have ever heard. For me over an hour of harpsichord music can sometimes become unpleasantly clangorous, monotonous, and fatiguing, but not in this case, not with the wonderful variety of colors Staier draws from this instrument (just as he does in his fortepiano recordings, making his Haydn and Mozart performances so delightful and revelatory). This is a recording that has both presence and atmosphere; this harpsichord SOUNDS like a palpable three-dimensional object in space--and I am listening through only two speakers.

Using a second CD player, I compared a number of tracks by Rousset and Staier back to back, and consistently preferred Staier. Next to the color of his playing Rousset, admirable in so many respects, sounds rather monochromatic to me. I have been listening to various versions of the Goldbergs for fifty years, yet Staier's interpretation rekindled by initial awe for this miracle of musical art. A wonderful recording!

The CD also comes with a DVD, in which Staier, always an intelligent commentator on the music he plays, discusses the Goldberg variations and demonstrates his points on the harpsichord.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Controversial Goldbergs 30 April 2010
By Oldnslow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording will surely raise controversy, and already has. It is a big-boned reading, played on a rather unusual harpsichord, with some stops kinda like an organ, allowing Staier to produce some usual voicings for some of the variations. The recording quality of this performance is very close up, making it difficult to hear clearly some of the faster variations. Nevertheless, I find this to be a fascinating performance, and it is almost like a throwback (and update) of a Wanda Landowska performance. Staier has put a lot of thought, intelligence, and flair into his reading of this great piece, which can seemingly tolerate an unending number of approaches and instruments and still remain a masterpiece. While not a first choice (I suppose Hantai on harpsichchord on Opus 111 and Perahia on piano would be my modern favorites) this offers a very interesting alternative for those with an open mind.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Superb Goldbergs 5 April 2010
By Mark Ringer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is easily Staier's most satisfying performance of Bach on disc. The Haas copy is a gorgeous, robust instrument which opens many registrational possibilities unavailable on more chastely concieved instruments. It's like listening to a modern Kirkpatrick or Valenti in terms of the Haas' greater coloristic range: and such playing was both possible and likely in Bach's day. Staier's Bach is appropriately masaculine and dynamic without shortchanging the work's profoundly ruminative moments. Staier's tempi are sometimes unconventionally slowish, allowing the listener to relish passage work that many players leave blurred. At the end of the 80 minute disc one feels, as one should, that a universe of emotional and intellectual speculation has been traversed. The recording quality is excellent. The accompanying DVD interview is interesting. Only Ketil Haugsand and Bob van Asperen offer equally compelling recent versions on historic instruments or authentic copies.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
No Complaints 20 Oct 2012
By Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have no idea what the real complaints of those listeners who gave this recording less than 5 stars. This is one of the best, if not the best, of all the Goldberg Variations. I own several performances, on the modern piano (including Glenn Gould's), on a fortepiano, and on the harpsichord. This the best sounding performance I have. I have no problem with the recording. True, it is a little loud and bright; but lower the volume and enjoy it. The performance is very smooth, even at the rough edges of the piece; it is technically perfect; and full of restrained passion. Exactly what you expect a Bach work to sound. The work itself is a masterpiece of the late Baroque period. It is also beautiful. Staier's playing brings the best about this work, and it is supposed to be as close to its original performances as possible. There is an accompanying DVD that is also very informative. Buy it without hesitation. It is worth every penny.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Never Too Many Goldbergs! 28 Oct 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
But eventually one can't listen appreciatively to every recorded performance, or afford to buy every CD with the prospect of listening to it only once. This is nowhere near one of my favorite recordings of the Goldberg variations, even though Andreas Staier is an extraordinarily skillful harpsichordist. It ranks far behind the performances on CD by Rousset, Hantaï, Alessandrini, and van Asperen. That's why I'm awarding only three stars, lest anyone buy it in preference to those.

There are some interesting things about it, however. Staier's interpretation is 'original' almost to the point of eccentricity; you'll hear his odd freedom of phrasing immediately in the first variation, and you'll soon discover that 'adagio' is an invitation to the darkest melancholy rubato. But the most obvious differences you'll hear result from the construction of the harpsichord, putatively a copy of a heavily-built German instrument such as Bach himself would have played. The lower notes -- the left hand -- are massive! Granitic! Why, they sound almost piano-like! Some listeners will be enthralled, once they get used to such a weighty basso, but others will be unsettled. Likewise, the upper register notes are extremely tinkly, just the timbre that harpsichord-haters delight in denouncing. With such contrasting timbres, however, Staier is able to emphasize (exaggerate?) the contrapuntal nature of the various canonic variations at different intervals. The whole effect is more rugged (not rough) than suave. One previous reviewer suggested that Staier's 'sound' harks back to Wanda Landowska's. I don't hear that at all. Landowska's harpsichord was heavy -- not an authentic reproduction of any historical instrument -- but her performance brimmed with vigor and insight, whereas Staier's seems overstudied.

Still, any performance on harpsichord is better than any on piano.
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