Reactions to this well-recorded live disc will necessarily be personal. France's macaronically named Kammer Ensemble de Paris plays Bach's Goldberg Variations in a version for string trio by one Dmitri Sitkovetsky; a word in the booklet about the origins of this transcription might have been in order. String chamber players may indeed suffer pangs of jealousy that their repertoire does not include Bach, and the open-score Art of Fugue in particular has been picked up by several string quartets. Even there, the results are something like playing tennis with one's nondominant hand. The string chamber ensemble has a set of ensemble conventions that have to be rigorously discarded in order to realize Bach's polyphonic concept. Here, with a work that is explicitly for keyboard and is composed with a profound understanding of the capabilities of keyboard music, the gulf is even greater. The musicians involved here do bring the necessary rigor to their work, achieving a consistency of articulation that succeeds in avoiding the impression of a Classical-era string trio playing Bach. The work of cellist Aurélien Sabouret is especially noteworthy in its elimination of the percussive, accompanimental qualities of the cello. The group creates a rather organ-like consistency, which is a good idea inasmuch as Bach himself transferred string works to the organ. The bottom line is that if you want to hear Bach's keyboard music played on strings, this rendering of the Goldberg Variations should appeal to you.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9)|