4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Performances in Spectacular Sound,
This review is from: J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations & Concertos (+ Book) (Audio CD)
First, you need to know that these two CDs do not represent new recordings. The Goldberg Variations were recorded in 1991 and the Bach Concerti in 1993. They have been reissued singly several times since then and have almost universally received glowing reviews. Now the two CDs are packaged together along with a booklet containing essays about each by Dennis Collins (Goldbergs) and by Gilles Cantagrel (Concerti). Pierre Hantaï is, of course, one of the finest harpsichordist around these days and the instrument he plays (a 1985 copy by Bruce Kennedy of an instrument made in 1702-04 by Michael Mietke) is one of the best-sounding (and best-recorded) I've ever heard.
The Goldberg Variations performance is one of the most thrilling I've ever heard. One senses that Hantaï takes real risks with his performance and wins every gamble. The forward journey to the repeat of the Aria is inexorable and yet there is no sense of rushing, although there are some pretty fast tempi along the way. Playing throughout is full of verve, technical brilliance and, when appropriate, playfulness. Moreover, Bach dances, as he should. My only quibble is that there are perhaps fewer ornaments in the repeats than one might wish.
The concerti included here are BWV 1052 (the famous one in D Minor) and 1054 (the transcription of the E Major violin concerto) for harpsichord and strings, Triple Concerto BWV 1044 for flute, violin, harpsichord and strings, and for contrast between the three concerti there are performances of two preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC II, No. 23 in B Major, and WTC II, No. 11 in F Major). Hantaï conducts Le Concert Français in the concerti.
Audio in both discs is a paragon of clean, lifelike sound.
Strongly recommended, particularly at the set's budget price.