The possessor of a broad repertoire, pianist Tzimon Barto plays music from the Baroque to the modern periods, and his technical facility in all genres of keyboard music is noteworthy. However, he tends to be strongest in Romantic and post-Romantic works, and this seems to influence his style of playing music by J.S. Bach, whose Goldberg Variations receive a decidedly freewheeling and Romantic treatment on this Capriccio recording. Sample the opening statement of the Aria, and note how slowly and dreamily Barto interprets the melody, stretching it almost to the point of unrecognizability. What follows is a highly variable and excitable set of variations that are tugged about with ample rubato, elastic rhythms, and random dynamics, all hallmarks of self-indulgent playing. Perhaps listeners with a taste for the novel and eccentric will find Barto to their liking, and the most jaded may find this performance to be a startling take on a classic that has grown stale from too much exposure. But anyone who values steadiness of execution and consistency of expression in the Goldberg Variations will find this reading undisciplined, unpredictable, and whimsical, and fans of historically informed performance practices will pass it by without a qualm.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Goldberg Variationen, BWV 988|