J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (CR064)

Review by Choir & Organ

Listen and buy on Convivium Records

The Goldberg Variations take courage and musicianship in equal parts. Malcolm Archer generally rises to the challenge, using a fine Alan Gotto harpsichord after the 1728 Zell, an ideal instrument for this music, with beautiful sound and perfect balance between manuals. The central Overture (variation 16) uses the full coupled registers to splendid effect, and it’s here and in some of the virtuoso two-manual variations, such as 5, 17 and 26 that Archer is at his best. The slower lyrical variation 13 is lovely, but the G minor Adagio variation 25 is rather stilted. Trills sometimes fall ahead of the beat when precision on the beat is desirable, and some ornaments defining the Sarabande character of the opening and closing Aria are misunderstood. Not all repeats are taken, but this is essentially an enjoyable and honest performance, with excellent sleeve notes by David Owen Norris.

Douglas Hollick, Choir & Organ, 5th October, 2021

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