Originally composed for the two-manual harpsichord, Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations are most often encountered today on piano, with harpsichord performances almost as frequent. Yet this hasn't prevented other instrumentalists from arranging the Goldberg Variations for their own purposes, sometimes quite freely, for organ, harp, guitar, electronics, flute and piano, and even orchestra. This BIS release by Trio Zimmermann is not unusual in offering the Goldberg Variations in a fresh transcription for string trio, which other arrangers have used, and which offers some attractive possibilities because Bach's two- and three-part counterpoint is readily assigned to the violin, viola, and cello. The only difficulty comes in translating the crisply ornamented textures and transparent tone colors of the keyboard to the smoother lines and warm timbres of the strings, which alter the mood of the music in subtle ways and trade off the keyboard's brilliance for a rounder, mellower tone. Violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, violist Antoine Tamestit, and cellist Christian Poltéra are accomplished soloists in chamber and concerto settings, though here they play as one ensemble with great cohesiveness and expressive unity, so there is no disparity between the parts that could undermine the Goldberg Variations' feeling of wholeness. BIS' multichannel recording gives the performers great clarity in a fairly resonant room, and the spatial separation keeps the three players in balance.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Goldberg Variations, Aria mit Verschiedenen Variationen (Clavierübung IV, BWV 988)|