JS Bach: Goldberg Variations – two piano version (arr. Rheinberger/Reger)

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Goldberg Variations – two piano version (arr. Rheinberger/Reger)
PERFORMER: Yaara Tal, Andreas Groethuysen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88697 52696 2

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This may not be the way you’d always want to hear Bach’s Goldberg Variations, but Rheinberger’s arrangement for two pianos is so inventive and is played here with such infectious vitality that it is a thrilling experience.

In fleshing out Bach’s textures, Rheinberger adds an element of respectful orchestral splendour, dividing the parts between the two instruments with good effect for canonic voice-leading as well as deriving new counterpoints and supporting ideas from Bach’s material.

Reger performed Rheinberger’s arrangement many times before writing down his own version involving several alterations, some including minor details, others markedly altering the character of certain variations.

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Tal and Groethuysen play with masterful understanding, taut rhythmic control and impeccable ensemble. Most striking is the way they balance the parts, varying the texture for each repeat by highlighting different voices: this adds greatly to the expressive variety and the feeling of contrapuntal depth. The result is wonderfully alive, involving and ultimately very moving. Tim Parry