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Bach: Grigory Sokolov plays Goldberg Variations

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 25, 2014
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$29.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Concert recordings of J.S. Bach's compositions performed by Grigory Sokolov, arguably the most intellectual of all modern Russian pianists. The Goldberg Variations, Bach's most complicated cycle from a performing point of view, was recorded by Grigory Sokolov in concert in 1982. This double-disc offering also includes the C minor Partita and the English Suite in A minor.

Product Details

  • Conductor: __
  • Composer: Bach
  • Audio CD (March 25, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Melodiya
  • ASIN: B009LRJ9EQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,046 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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The playing here has a rhapsodic, improvisatory quality which is utterly beguiling; the interpolated trills and flourishes, beginning immediately even in the opening aria, seem to derive from the sheer joy and exuberance Sokilov experiences in playing this timeless music. His mechanical prestidigitation is a thing of wonder yet its percussive regularity is tempered and balanced by the whimsy of the pianist's phrasing in the lyrical sections. There is enormous variety of mood and approach within this concert; the fifth variation is the epitome of insouciant Romaticism, like a rippling brook, whereas in No.8 Sokolov out-Goulds Gould for manic attack. The "Black Pearl" is by contrast almost too restrained and hesitant, courting stasis. One accusation you certainly cannot level at Sokolov is that his interpretation lacks personality

Unfortunately, the boxy, aggressive recording by Melodiya acoustic harkens back to another Russian (Soviet) style of recording, and the famed knowledgeable attentiveness of Russian audiences is belied by the inconsiderate hacks and sneezes which punctuate the playing. Such a pity that this most characterful, idiosyncratic and indeed fascinating account is marred by clangourous sound and Yahoos in the front seats.

The Partita and English Suite which complete CD2 are from other live concerts. Brilliantly executed, they are also in better sound before more appreciative and better disciplined listeners.
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This is another live performance deformed by coughing and sneezing by an insensitive audience. I have a hard time dealing with such distractions. That said, Sokolov's rendering is assertive, even aggressive, with interesting flourishes. But the microphones are poorly placed, giving the recording a shallow echo associated with the earliest days of live recording. Glenn Gould has yet to be dethroned for all the endless attempts at the Goldbergs.
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Bach: Grigory Sokolov plays Goldberg Variations
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