J S Bach: Goldberg Variations

LABELS: Arthaus
WORKS: Goldberg Variations
PERFORMER: Andrea Bacchetti (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Arthaus 101 447 (NTSC system; DD 5.1, dts 5.1; 4:3 letterbox/16:9)
Arthaus gives us here two performances of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, recorded in different locations by the greatly gifted Andrea Bacchetti, of whom we have heard little in the UK. On the DVD he introduces the Goldbergs and his own interpretation of them with manic zest, speaking at a rate youwouldn’t have thought possible, and getting ever faster. It may be best not to watch this first, for both performances are on the highest level, and it would be a great loss for any Bach-lover not to listen to them. The CD takes only 77 minutes – actually a very long time compared to the normal length of an hour or so. The DVD, recorded earlier, takes 97 minutes, making Bacchetti a Celibidache of the keyboard. He uses a very soft-toned grand piano in each case, and avails himself of its full dynamic range, using both pedals freely. As he says, he likes to play the Goldbergs slowly, and when he isn’t slow he still isn’t fast. By the end of the DVD, I wished that he had allowed the final four variations to gather momentum as well as weight. Yet the overall impact of both these performances – for me, the CD is preferable – is so majestic and profound that it would be churlisdeny it greatness. In fact the recital is revelatory.