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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Goldbergs from Jory Vinikour, 9 Nov. 2010
By 
Stephen Midgley (Tarbrax, West Calder, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bach: Goldberg Variations (Audio CD)
The first point to mention about Jory Vinikour's recording of the Goldberg Variations is that the player observes all the repeats. Thus, the Aria and each of the variations are played in AABB format, just as Bach envisaged and marked. This decision brings rich rewards, firstly because it allows the player to vary the music within each section by ornamentation, changes of register and volume, shifts of emphasis, pauses, sometimes a combination of these things. And secondly, it helps the listener to become more familiar with each variation - and in doing so to appreciate qualities and subtleties in the music which otherwise can follow upon one another too quickly for some of us humbler mortals to assimilate readily.

Mr. Vinikour plays the opening Aria with measured, dignified tenderness; then, as Bach's variations on the bass line of this gentle, unassuming melody succeed one another, we are treated to a veritable feast of beautiful keyboard playing as Vinikour's technical brilliance and energy are combined with both delicacy and profound insight. This player has a remarkable way of communicating with the inner thoughts and soul of the listener, a quality all the more evident when one hears him in live performance. Here on this CD, he brings a distinctive combination of charm, dignity and feeling to the music, seeming somehow to take us to the very heart of Bach as well as any musician I've ever heard.

Memorable moments for me include the sprightly, leaping energy and rhythm of the 7th variation (tempo di Giga), the charming, gentle progress of the melody in the canon of the 9th variation - and indeed all the canons (that is, every third variation) are a great delight. Then there are the spirited brilliance of no. 10 (Fughetta); the sparkling vigour of the French-style Ouverture (no. 16) with its sharp dotted rhythms and decorated repeats; no. 18, another canon, with a wonderful energy and spring in its step; and no. 20, with such witty, dazzling contrasts between what the left and right hand are playing that it's hard for the ordinary cloth-eared listener to keep track of which one is doing what - although, needless to say, Mr. Vinikour doesn't suffer that problem. No. 22, Alla breve, has everything - energy, charm, bravura and a delicate touch. Then there are the increasingly dashing and complex final variations, culminating in a Quodlibet that is at once brilliant, tuneful and down-to-earth - the almost Handelian nobility of the music belying its origins in two folksongs about love and vegetables among the peasantry. Here, Vinikour manages the combination of these diverse elements most beautifully, before the final return to the Aria in a manner that is both touching and profound.

A glance through the catalogues shows that Bach's extraordinary and infinitely rewarding variations are available in numerous recordings, played on everything but the kitchen sink and often with very fine results. But Mr. Vinikour comes as close to Bach's own time as can be, performing on a magnificent copy by Kevin Fryer of a 17th-century Ruckers harpsichord. It sounds truly wonderful, as does the Delos recording. To complete the picture we have the player's own excellent notes in the accompanying booklet.

Having bought and been delighted with Vinikour's superb recording of the Handel keyboard suites, I had high hopes for his version of the Goldbergs. Those hopes have been amply fulfilled. The decision to give us all repeats does of course result in the work being spread over two discs (for the price of one, in case you worry about such things) totalling 85 minutes. In Jory Vinikour's hands they are 85 minutes of absolute joy: "Denen Liebhabern zur Gemüths-Ergetzung", wrote Bach on his title page, and this recording brings us as near as can be imagined to that noble intention to delight the spirits of music-lovers.

So thank you, Messrs. Vinikour, Ruckers, Fryer, Delos, Goldberg, the insomniac Count von Keyserlingk and, of course, the venerable JSB.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional clarity., 28 Mar. 2004
By 
Mr. David E. Freedman "depf" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bach: Goldberg Variations (Audio CD)
It is difficult to choose nowadays between piano and harpsichord for Bach's keyboard works. Piano pleases the contemporary ear because the hammer action allows subtle variations, however, the harpsichord allows for greater clarity of each note. Jory Vinikor's Goldberg Variations has a wonderful clarity to it. It sets out the main theme with great care and each variation is given its individual colouring within an overall context that is never lost. In Bach keyboard pieces the left hand is often of equal importance and Vinikor gives the left hand the weight it deserves. These Goldberg Variations are always a pleasure to listen to and always interesting. If you want a piano version then it has to be Angela Hewitt, and Vinikor and Hewitt provide a fascinating contrast of styles.
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Bach: Goldberg Variations
Bach: Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach (Audio CD - 2001)
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