Garrick Ohlsson

Bach: Goldberg Variations; Handel: Suite No. 2, HWV 427

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AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis

Bridge Records proudly launches a series of Garrick Ohlsson recordings with this entry, Bach: Goldberg Variations -- Handel: Suite No. 6. As the umbrella title for this disc is given as Garrick Ohlsson Edition, one might suspect that these recordings have been around the block before, as such series usually have some retrospective purpose. Actually, they have not; this performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations was recorded in 1999 at Michigan State University in East Lansing, and the Handel Suite No. 2 comes from a 2001 date at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY in Purchase, NY. Although Ohlsson's recorded output is enormous and spreads across several labels, it appears as though he has never before essayed the Bach, nor the Handel, on disc.

Ohlsson's Goldbergs are sensitively done and utilize a soft touch in combination with a very even-keel approach to tempi. The vagaries of expression and flexible speed experienced in Glenn Gould's two famous studio recordings of this work are not for Ohlsson, rather it is a reliable and solid performance of a familiar work put forward in a clear-cut manner. The Handel Suite demonstrates a bit more variability, as the slow movements are truly very slow, and the fast ones fast indeed. The touch remains soft, and although it is not quite as soft as that employed by Keith Jarrett in his best-selling recording of Handel's suites for ECM. Jarrett didn't vary the tempi much from movement to movement, whereas Ohlsson makes the distinction quite clear. These are very satisfactory performances, and the recordings, although made at two different places, are well matched enough that if you didn't know their provenance, you wouldn't know the difference between the two.

Given the sheer glut of Goldbergs available, it appears Bridge has picked a rather tough row to hoe to send off its new series with Garrick Ohlsson. Future volumes in this edition promise a welcome continuation of his Beethoven sonata cycle, left hanging in mid-air when the pianist separated himself from the New York-based label Arabesque. Ohlsson is such a tremendous artist that almost anything from his is to be cherished, without regard to the literature involved, and given his typically busy concert schedule, Bach: Goldberg Variations -- Handel: Suite No. 6 and the successor issues in the Garrick Ohlsson Edition should have no trouble in finding an audience.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9)
1 Garrick Ohlsson 02:40 Amazon
2 Garrick Ohlsson 01:00 Amazon
3 Garrick Ohlsson 00:55 Amazon
4 Garrick Ohlsson 01:22 Amazon
5 Garrick Ohlsson 00:33 Amazon
6 Garrick Ohlsson 00:45 Amazon
7 Garrick Ohlsson 00:55 Amazon
8 Garrick Ohlsson 01:06 Amazon
9 Garrick Ohlsson 00:58 Amazon
10 Garrick Ohlsson 01:09 Amazon
11 Garrick Ohlsson 00:54 Amazon
12 Garrick Ohlsson 01:15 Amazon
13 Garrick Ohlsson 01:04 Amazon
14 Garrick Ohlsson 03:09 Amazon
15 Garrick Ohlsson 01:06 Amazon
16 Garrick Ohlsson 02:34 Amazon
17 Garrick Ohlsson 01:33 Amazon
18 Garrick Ohlsson 00:59 Amazon
19 Garrick Ohlsson 01:03 Amazon
20 Garrick Ohlsson 00:58 Amazon
21 Garrick Ohlsson 00:55 Amazon
22 Garrick Ohlsson 01:43 Amazon
23 Garrick Ohlsson 00:45 Amazon
24 Garrick Ohlsson 00:57 Amazon
25 Garrick Ohlsson 01:28 Amazon
26 Garrick Ohlsson 05:13 Amazon
27 Garrick Ohlsson 00:55 Amazon
28 Garrick Ohlsson 01:04 Amazon
29 Garrick Ohlsson 01:16 Amazon
30 Garrick Ohlsson 01:17 Amazon
31 Garrick Ohlsson 01:57 Amazon
32 Garrick Ohlsson 03:03 Amazon
Suite for keyboard (Suite de piece), Vol.1, No.2 in F major, HWV 427
33 Garrick Ohlsson 04:35 Amazon
34 Garrick Ohlsson 02:41 Amazon
35 Garrick Ohlsson 03:08 Amazon
36 Garrick Ohlsson 02:18 Amazon
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