Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations

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A new recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’, performed on harpsichord by Malcolm Archer.

SKU: CR064-Complete Categories: , Tags: ,

Description

About this release

“One of the towering masterpieces of the repertoire is given a thrilling new account on this recording by Malcolm Archer. Respect is owed to anyone who can climb the peaks of this extraordinary work, and Archer scales them with such technical flair and panache that one is never aware of the effort involved. It is fascinating to hear the wonderful sounds and colours of the harpischord here, and in Archer’s hands the instrument acquires infinite variety. The performance is beautifully paced, with each variation given a considered and individual account, whilst the cumulative effect is as thrilling as the logic is inevitable. Archer’s performance also highlights the internal logic and sub-divisions of the whole as well so that the listener recognizes and appreciates the various levels on which this piece operates, whilst never feeling that this is for anything other than musical ends. It achieves the most desirable result of a performance of this work – one feels one is listening to something which is continually surprising, whilst also travelling towards a destination which is utterly inevitable. A stylish and beautiful release, which also contains an excellent and informative essay by David Owen-Norris which should be required reading for anyone interested in the question of whether the piano or harpsichord is their instrument of choice for this music.”

David Bednall

Introduction

Programme notes

Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Aria with diverse variations’, composed in 1742, and whose title page proclaims that it was ‘Composed for Music Lovers, to Refresh their Spirits’, quickly acquired the musical icon status which it enjoys today. Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, exclaimed: ‘What diversity! What perfection of the hands and of expression this art requires!’ Forkel, Bach’s first biographer, thought that ‘the quodlibet might alone render its author immortal, though it is far from being the best part’. It was one of the first pieces of Bach to be published outside Germany, extracts appearing in Sir John Hawkins’s History of Music in 1776. Count Kaiserling, who commissioned the piece, was not content with paying a mere fee, but instead presented Bach with a golden goblet filled with a hundred golden coins. J.G. Goldberg, a pupil of Bach, was resident harpsichord virtuoso in Kaiserling’s household. It fell to him to play the Count’s variations whenever requested – as a solace for insomnia, on occasions – hence the popular nickname for the work: the Goldberg Variations.

About the artists

Malcolm Archer

Malcolm Archer has had a distinguished career in church music. He held the post of Organist and Director of Music at Bristol, Wells and St Paul’s Cathedral. He was subsequently Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College for eleven years.

Malcolm studied as an RCO scholar at the Royal College of Music and was Organ Scholar at Jesus College Cambridge. His organ teachers were Ralph Downes, Gillian Weir and Nicolas Kynaston.

As an organist and harpsichordist he is in frequent demand. He has given solo concerts all over the world, including the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Europe. His performances with orchestra have included Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 and the Bach keyboard concertos. Malcolm has also performed with the London Symphony Orchestra in a classic rock concert in the Royal Albert Hall. Moreover, he has an extensive concert repertoire and has recorded a wide variety of works including J.S. Bach organ works and Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneuras. Read more

  • Aria - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 1 a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 2 a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 3 Canone all'Unisono. a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 4 a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 5 a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 6 Canone alla Seconda. a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 7 a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. al tempo di Giga - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 8 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 9 Canone alla Terza. a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 10 Fughetta. a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 11 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 12 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Quarta in moto contrario - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 13 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 14 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 15 Canone alla Quinta. a 1 Clav. Andante - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 16 Ouverture. a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 17 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 18 Canone alla Sesta. a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 19 a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 20 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 21 Canone alla Settima - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 22 a 1 Clav. alla breve - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 23 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 24 Canone all'Ottava. a 1 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 25 a 2 Clav. Adagio - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 26 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 27 Canone alla Nona. a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 28 a 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 29 a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Variation 30 a 1 Clav. Quodlibet - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Aria da Capo - Johann Sebastian Bach
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Credits

Catalogue number: CR064

Harpsichord Malcolm Archer
Harpsichord Builder Alan Gotto
Engineering Adaq Khan
Recording Location St Paul’s Church House, Staverton, UK
Producer George Richford
Photography Mike Cooter
Creative Director Mike Cooter
Executive Producer Adrian Green

Further information

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