J.S.BACH Goldberg Variations arr.
Les Violons du Roy/Bernard
Dorian- 90281 79'30"
This thoughtful and well considered presentation of the Goldberg Variations
for strings and continuo was recorded September 1999 in Quebec by an expert
Canadian group. The arranger/conductor discusses the 'authenticity' issues
in depth and gives ample justification, reminding us that in 18th
C. no original score was sacrosanct and performers invariably adapted and
rearranged music - without acknowledgement, unless doing so might be commercially
advantageous. The changes here are scrupulously annotated and Labadie does
not expect us to prefer his version to the original; he intends it to demonstrate
the flexibility of great music and for us to enjoy this masterpiece in a
He is triumphantly successful, from the first statement of the Aria
by solo violin (the admirable Nicole Trotier) coolly expressive without vibrato,
with viola, cello and theorbo, to its return at the end, muted. The
instrumentation is varied through the 32 tracks, the full complement of four
violins, viola and cello, harpsichord and theorbo employed relatively
The mind-boggling difficulty of many of the variations on the keyboard is
replaced here with elegant ease and freshness, the dance basis of so much
of Bach's music very much in evidence. Recording (with no dynamic compression)
and liner notes are beyond reproach.
It is not intended to displace your preferred harpsichord version, nor the
modern piano realisations in your collection by Gould or Tureck. For a preview
of the next Goldberg, soon to appear, see
review of Murray Perahia (RFH, 27 March).
Peter Grahame Woolf