Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variationen András Schiff

Cover Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variationen

Album info



Label: ECM

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Piano

Artist: András Schiff

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 –1750)

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 –1750): Aria mit 30 Veränderungen, BWV 988 (Goldberg Variations)
  • 1Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Aria (Live)03:47
  • 2Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 1 (Live)01:51
  • 3Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 2 (Live)01:23
  • 4Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 3, Canone all'unisono (Live)02:03
  • 5Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 4 (Live)01:03
  • 6Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 5 (Live)01:33
  • 7Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 6, Canone alla seconda (Live)01:21
  • 8Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 7, Al tempo di giga (Live)01:33
  • 9Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 8 (Live)01:43
  • 10Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 9, Canone alla terza (Live)01:27
  • 11Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 10, Fughetta (Live)01:35
  • 12Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 11 (Live)02:01
  • 13Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 12, Canone alla quarta (Live)01:56
  • 14Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 13 (Live)04:13
  • 15Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 14 (Live)02:00
  • 16Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 15, Canone alla quinta. Andante (Live)03:54
  • 17Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 16, Ouverture (Live)02:37
  • 18Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 17 (Live)02:11
  • 19Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 18, Canone alla sesta (Live)01:16
  • 20Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 19 (Live)01:21
  • 21Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 20 (Live)01:50
  • 22Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 21, Canone alla settima (Live)01:51
  • 23Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 22, Alla breve (Live)01:51
  • 24Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 23 (Live)02:08
  • 25Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 24, Canone all'ottava (Live)02:17
  • 26Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 25, Adagio (Live)06:55
  • 27Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 26 (Live)02:06
  • 28Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 27, Canone alla nona (Live)01:38
  • 29Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 28 (Live)02:49
  • 30Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 29 (Live)01:47
  • 31Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Variatio 30, Quodibet (Live)01:21
  • 32Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Aria da capo (Live)03:56
  • Total Runtime01:11:17

Info for Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variationen

András Schiff returns to the Goldberg Variations in what will be regarded as one of the classical music events of the year. Two decades after his acclaimed account of the Variations for Decca, Schiff documents Bach’s towering masterpiece again, this time in a live recording for ECM New Series. As the New York Times said, “Mr Schiff is, in Bach, a phenomenon. He has quite simply internalized this music. He doesn’t so much perform it as emit, breathe it.” The fluency of the playing in this concert recording from Basel is quietly astonishing, the technical demands of the work transcended with uncanny gracefulness.

20 years after his acclaimed account of the Goldberg Variations for Decca, András Schiff documents Bach’s towering masterpiece again, this time in a live recording for ECM New Series.

As the New York Times said, “Mr Schiff is, in Bach, a phenomenon. He doesn’t so much perform it as emit, breathe it.” Made to address the changes that have taken place in his approach to Bach, (and also in response to numerous requests from fellow musicians and the public), Schiff’s new Goldberg recording is, from multiple perspectives, a major event. The fluency of the playing in this concert recording from Basel is quietly astonishing, the technical demands of the work transcended with uncanny gracefulness.

The old Decca recording, long regarded by music critics as one of the most distinguished Goldberg interpretations, was the work of an exceptional young musician who had already been playing the work for a decade. Indeed, even before his first public performance of the work, in Budapest in 1975, he had been “slowly working on it for four to five years.” Schiff received additional insight via his studies in London with George Malcolm, the great harpsichordist and expert on baroque performance practise. Although the Goldberg Variations were written for a two-manual harpsichord, “Mr Malcolm, a universal musician, always encouraged me to play Bach on the modern piano, with varied articulation, imaginative phrasing and minimal (if any) use of the sustaining pedal… The main question has to be, how do we play Bach’s music? His manuscripts give us very little information on certain aspects of interpretation: tempo, dynamics, phrasing, articulation, ornamentation. The performer was expected to fill in the gaps by following his musical knowledge and instinct. So, the pianist should not be a slave, but rather a re-creator. Bach’s text is sacred, but he gives us the liberty to make certain choices and decisions.”

On the structure of the work: “The strict observance of repeats is quite crucial in these Variations. When I was younger I tried to use all the resources available to achieve variety. These included transposing certain sections an octave up or down, something that could easily be done on the two-manual harpsichord with registration. So this was my homage to the harpsichord. It also emphasizes one aspect of my approach: the joy of playing, playfulness. Nevertheless twenty years later we may prefer subtler means.”

ECM recorded several performances of András Schiff playing the Goldberg Variations in the autumn of 2001, from which the pianist selected the Basel concert for release. Schiff feels the concert setting is optimal for the Goldberg:

“My view of the Goldberg Variations is largely helped by the live recording. It is a long journey and I believe in continuity. It’s not a fragmented sequence of 32 excerpts. The overall plan, the division of groups, rests, silences – they all depend on careful timing, which can only be achieved naturally in a live performance.”

One point in which this recording is clearly superior to its predecessor is the sound – attributable to Schiff’s ever more subtle touch and also to the instrument employed. András Schiff: “These days I always play a piano prepared by Maestro Angelo Fabbrini in Pescara, Italy. These instruments are perfectly voiced and tuned and possess a special ‘shining’ quality. I believe in the cantabile art of piano playing and this piano can sing. Twenty years ago I played the best available piano in London because I didn’t know anything better. There are, however, great differences between pianos, and technicians. Today I travel with my own piano and technician, Mr Rocco Cicchella, and I’m very happy.”

The CD booklet contains a “Guided Tour” of the Goldberg Variations, specially written by András Schiff for this release. At its conclusion he asks: “Isn't it understandable that every musician would want to play this wonderful work? Its deep humanity, spirituality, optimism and intellectual power speak to us directly in these 'distracted times'. This is one of those few journeys that can be repeated again and again.”

Also exclusive to this edition: a prologue, in acrostic form, by Indian writer Vikram Seth, well-known author of “An Equal Music”, “A Suitable Boy”, and “The Golden Gate”.

Whether in the role of recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician or accompanist, András Schiff is recognised as one of the leading pianists of his generation. Known especially for his exploration of the Austro-German masters – Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Beethoven (whose sonatas dominate his schedule from 2004 to 2007) - his repertoire also embraces Chopin, Scarlatti, Smetana, Dvorák, Janácek and fellow-Hungarians Bartók and Kurtág.

András Schiff was born in Budapest in 1953 and studied at the city’s Ferenc Liszt Academy with Pal Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados.

Schiff places a strong emphasis on recitals, chamber repertoire and collaboration with chamber orchestras, limiting his appearances in large-scale concertos. From 1989 until 1998 he was artistic director of the annual Mondsee chamber music festival in Austria and in 1995, together with oboist and composer Heinz Holliger, he founded the Ittinger Whitsun Festival in Switzerland. In the field of song, his collaborators have included Peter Schreier, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Robert Holl, Thomas Quasthoff, Juliane Banse and Cecilia Bartoli.

András Schiff began directing performances from the piano in the early 1980s and he now also conducts a limited number of performances from the rostrum, with a focus on Bach choral works, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert symphonies and Mozart operas, including Così fan tutte, seen in 2001 at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza as part of Schiff’s Hommage à Palladio festival and at the Edinburgh Festival; Le nozze di Figaro is planned for June 2004. In 1999 he founded the Cappella Andrea Barca, an orchestra comprising leading chamber musicians and soloists, and which performs in Salzburg and Vicenza.

Among awards received by András Schiff are the Bartók Prize; the Claudio Arrau Memorial Medal of Düsseldorf’s Robert Schumann Society; the Kossuth Prize (the highest Hungarian honour), Denmark’s Leonie Sonnings Music Prize and the Penna d’Oro della Cittá di Vicenza.

Following his long associations with Decca and Warner Classics, András Schiff today records for ECM New Series. His previous recordings for the label include: “Music For Two Pianos” – compositions by Mozart, Reger and Busoni performed by Schiff with Peter Serkin; Schubert Fantasies (with Yuuko Shiokawa, violin); “A Recollection”, music of Janáček; “András Schiff In Concert”, with music of Robert Schumann; “Songs of Debussy and Mozart” (with Juliane Banse).

„Schiff is the master colourist who, like Glenn Gould in his later Sony recording, achieves impressive continuity between variations. Contrasts, too and never more so than in the sequence of variations Nos 20 to 22, taking us from brilliantly realised syncopations, to a glowering canon in sevenths then dipping suddenly for the intimate “stile antico” of the four-part 22nd variation. … As for overall style, repeats are often embellished, sometimes radically varied, such as the underlined counterpoint of No 8’ s first repeat and the shift from staccato to legato in No. 11. … This is a fascinating, beautiful, deeply pondered and profoundly pianistic “Goldbergs”, and while not “authentic” in the accepted scholarly sense, it is appreciative of Baroque manners and ornamentation.“ (Rob Cowan, Gramophone)

András Schiff, piano

Concert recording, October 30, 2001 Stadtcasino, Basel
Tonmeister: Stephan Schellmann
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher

As a young pianist, András Schiff earned wide esteem for his 1980s recordings of the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach; in recent years, as part of his long-term relationship with ECM, he has gone back to Bach as a sage veteran, earning even more acclaim for his New Series versions of the Goldberg Variations (2001) and the Six Partitas (2007), both intimate concert recordings. In August 2011, Schiff turned his focus to the 48 preludes and fugues of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, recording both Books I and II in the Auditorium Radiosvizzera Italiana, Lugano. The performance of these influential works sets new interpretive standards. For the recording, Schiff’s own Steinway was brought to Lugano, and the production beautifully captures a masterful player and his instrument of choice.

András Schiff, born in Budapest in 1953, puts a strong focus on cyclic performances of the important piano works by the masters from Bach to Bártok. His wide-ranging discography on ECM includes works by Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Janáček, among many others. One of Schiff's most ambitious projects to date, the complete Beethoven sonata cycle was performed in 20 major musical centers worldwide and recorded for ECM in concert at the Zürich Tonhalle. In 1999, Schiff created his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians and friends. In addition to working annually with this orchestra, he conducts London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Booklet for Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variationen

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