Christmas Music




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Aria mit verschiedenen Veränderungen BWV 988 (“Goldberg Variations”)
Michael Tsalka (Clavichord)
rec. Roxy Studio, Berlin, Germany, 1-2 December 2012
PALADINO PMR0032 [67:07]

The “Goldberg Variations”, a staple of the keyboard repertoire, are timeless. Over the years it has been recorded a multitude of times. Simply putting “Goldberg Variations” into a search engine leads one to a plethora of recordings. It was the piece that launched legendary pianist Glenn Gould’s international career.
 
This particular recording is the culmination of a project by keyboardist Michael Tsalka, whose goal is to present performances that are not only well informed but also profoundly musical. I must say that in this interpretation, Tsalka has been singularly successful. The first thing I noticed was that this was a performance by somebody who loved and understood Bach’s music very deeply indeed. Tsalka uses every resource at his disposal to put this across.
 
His tools in this instance are a pair of clavichords placed side by side - making this recording the first of its kind - both of which are based on late 18th Century instruments. Each one brings its own character to the table, the first being characterised by a dainty upper range and rich bass line, the second notable for its robust middle range, with upper notes that are solid and rounded. Tsalka explains - in the booklet, which is brief but very informative - that his deciding whether to play a variation on one instrument or the other was often a spur of the moment decision. I enjoyed the resulting spontaneity as it kept the music fresh at every turn.
 
The playing is wonderful throughout, the lines and phrasing crafted with a very high sense of musicianship. Each variation is invigorating in its approach and feels like a new piece. The playing and choice of instrument also provide us with a constant reminder of the underpinning bass line, creating a sense of unity over the disc as a whole. The performance is also a very intimate one, and its delicacy only serves to enhances this aspect.
 
The clavichords lack the clinical precision of a modern grand piano or the harpsichord, but to an extent this does not matter. This imprecision, though a blessing, could be thought at times to be a clever ruse - a more sceptical listener might say it is used to cover up potential mistakes. It also makes the performance somewhat overly percussive in places: I found Variatio 23 suffering from this to the point that it disturbed the music. In addition I found some ornaments - particularly the trills - to be quite stiff; is this down to the instrument or the player? The imprecision of the instrument makes this difficult to determine. It also makes this disc something I wouldn't recommend to someone listening to the Variations for the first time. This is definitely for the more advanced listener. That is not to say that it is not a good recording; it is very good. However, the use of the instrument fills this recording with the kind of nuance that could ward off a first-time listener.
 
The debate rages over whether the Variations sound better on the piano or harpsichord. I believe this recording adds an interesting new angle - that of the clavichord. Do I believe it superior to either of the other instruments? No, but I believe it creates a new listening experience worthy of attention.
 
Jake Barlow
www.twitter.com/countertenor_j

Previous review: Byzantion

Masterwork Index: Goldberg variations


Experience Classicsonline