Richard Egarr

Bach: Goldberg Variations

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AllMusic Review by

Above everything else, Richard Egarr wants to make his harpsichord sing, to let its ringing tones and majestic sonorities sculpt a legato line similar to the sound of the human voice. While this may seem an unlikely if not altogether impossible goal given the plucked and struck harpsichord's justified reputation as a keyboard instrument with little or no sustaining capability, Egarr does come close to his goal in this recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations coupled with his Goldberg Canons. The tonal opulence of his harpsichord, a splendid copy of an earlier instrument re-voiced with seagulls' quills and re-tuned in a system with distinctly warmer overtones, is only part of the reason; the greater part is Egarr's touch, his technique, and his interpretations. His touch is less an attack and more of a caress. His technique is virtuosic but never obvious. His interpretations, while intellectually bracing, are also emotionally affecting, balancing the rigor of his canons with the sorrows of his adagios and the wit of his Quodilbet by the ethereal beauty of his Aria da capo. While Egarr does take all the repeats, thereby doubling the length of the work, and adds 14 brief canons to the end of the program, his performances are so light, so deep, so indescribably but undeniably vocal that, when the second disc ends, all one wants to do is start it over again. Harmonia Mundi's sound is clear, full, and vivid.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9)
1
2:51
2
2:34
3
1:47
4
1:28
5
2:53
6
2:46
7
1:47
8
2:43
9
3:20
10
8:04
11
2:39
12
2:10
13
3:00
14
2:36
15
1:48
16
4:32
Verschiedene Canones (14), for unspecified instruments or keyboard, BWV 1087
17
0:21
18
0:19
19
0:11
20
0:11
21
0:21
22
0:41
23
0:34
24
0:22
25
0:31
26
0:26
27
1:33
28
1:01
29
0:51
30
1:16
blue highlight denotes track pick