Bach: Goldberg Variations, BMV 988

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Capriccio
WORKS: Goldberg Variations, BMV 988
PERFORMER: Christine Schornsheim (Harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 10 577/78
Schornsheim is a relative newcomer to commercial recordings, and her name will be unfamiliar to many readers. It is nothing if not bold of her, then, to tackle Bach’s Goldberg Variations when there are over forty versions already available, ranging from the classic accounts on the piano by Rudolf Serkin, Gould and Arrau, to more recent recordings by Schiff and Gavrilov, and harpsichordists Pinnock, Leonhardt and Verlet. Schornsheim plays a two-manual harpsichord, with a full-bodied, silvery sound, perhaps not unlike the instrument Bach would have had in mind. Its aptness is mirrored in her interpretations, which show a thorough versing in Baroque idiom: stylish and adroit ornamentation, immaculate part playing and rhythmic incisiveness. At times, she can be somewhat heavy-handed – particularly in the Aria and Vars 3, 29 and 30; and here and there she disconcertingly snatches at the keyboard (Vars 4, 7 and 27). But these are small criticisms of what is overall an impressive account. Perhaps not an immediate choice for those looking for a first Goldberg, but an interesting addition if you already have some of those mentioned above. Kate Bolton