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Evgeni Koroliov: Bach - Goldberg Variations

6 customer reviews

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Evgeni Koroliov: Bach - Goldberg Variations + Koroliov Series  1 + Johann Sebastian Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 1: BWV 846-869
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Evgeni Koroliov performs live at the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, June 20, 2008.

Review

I laughed. I cried. Mostly, I listened, rapt, to German-based Russian pianist Koroliov as he unfurled the magical tapestry of the Goldberg Variations, written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1742.

Koroliov has said that a childhood inspiration was hearing Glenn Gould play in Moscow in 1957. But this performance goes well beyond anything Gould ever managed. It's hard to imagine a more satisfying set of Goldbergs than this extraordinary live performance from the Bach Festival in Leipzig last year.

The seduction happens on many levels: Koroliov's clear, unaffected articulation, absolute balance between both hands, mastery over the architectural progress of the 30 variations (plus opening and closing Aria) and a crystalline sound from the Hamburg Steinway.

Koroliov's rhythmic vitality and clever highlighting of inner voices illuminates this mathematical marvel: Bach's variations are as much an intellectual puzzle as they are beautiful music.

There is not much to see on the DVD, which leaves you free to close your eyes. I was lucky enough to watch the sun gild passing clouds outside my window and contemplate what a miracle it is to have 80 minutes of eternal beauty available to me on the DVD shelf. -- Toronto Star, John Terauds, December 2, 2008


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Evgeni Koroliov
  • Directors: Michael Beyer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001HBX8Q4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,212 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I've known and loved Evgeni Koroliov's 1999 CD of the Goldberg Variations, part of the Hänssler label's ongoing series of Bach's complete works, since it was issued. It is notable for its unfussiness, it unfailing musicality, its sense of spontaneity, and its sonic clarity. Clearly influenced by Glenn Gould, Koroliov nonetheless alters his touch a good deal more than the Canadian, varying from Gouldian staccato to unfailingly clear legato; this adds to the palpable feeling of spontaneity. Bach's polyphonic lines are always easily heard. And a singing, lyical line is always present.

Now comes this video of a live performance of the Goldbergs, recorded in the Gewandhaus at the Leipzig Bach Festival in June 2008, only five months before this DVD was issued. As in the earlier CD all repeats are taken. This performance is similar in many respects to that earlier recording, although it is slightly faster. My goodness, he takes the 5th variation about as fast as I've ever heard it; I wonder how he manages to make it, written for the two keyboards of the harpsichord, so clear without his two hands getting tangled up with each other. Although slower, the 11th variation presents the same problems and Koroliov sidesteps any possible digital collisions. The simplicity of the 18th variation (canon at the sixth) is charming; there are occasional octave displacements, as in this variation. It is followed by a slower-than-usual 19th variation whose lyricism is emphasized. Ornaments throughout are sparse and unobtrusive but always sparkling and apt. The Black Pearl variation -- No. 25 -- lasts ten minutes, slower than most performances, conveying a raptness that brought a lump to my throat. It is followed by a gentle, hyperlegato 26th variation, a perfect way to slowly emerge from the hypnotic 25th.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Rose on April 22, 2009
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After reading other reviews of this DVD and Koroliov's earlier CD, I decided to purchase the DVD, because it was reported to take a slightly faster pace. I was also intrigued by the possibility that Koroliov might have provided a performance that is different but as satisfying as my long-time favorite recording of this piece by Konstantin Lifschitz (Bach: Goldberg Variations).

Koroliov's performance is certainly different. He definitely achieves at least one of the goals that he set out for himself as described in the program notes. There he is reported to have mentioned Glenn Gould, Maria Yudina, and Sviatoslav Richter as his strongest pianistic influences, chiefly because they were all able to "bring out the polyphonic textures in Bach's contrapuntal works." In this respect, he is definitely their equal. His readings are extremely clean, and creatively, though not heavily, ornamented, and he uses a wide variety of touch and dynamics to clearly separate the contrapuntal lines. His tempos are true, almost rigidly so, and his diction is just as even no matter how fast or slow the tempo. In short, this is an exceedingly honest performance of the work, and the piano sound is just as even and clear. It should be in every Goldberg collection.

However, it is just not as satisfying to me as Lifschitz's youthful offering, which has only grown more dear to me as the years pass. May be I will feel differently about Koroliov's performance over time. The difference lies, I believe, in Lifschitz's extraordinary improvisatory and lyrical quality that does not sacrifice any of the clarity of line that Koroliov achieves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gomez Pardo HALL OF FAME on April 16, 2011
When the wunderkid Glenn Gould (1932-1982) astonished the entire world in 1955 with his colossal version of Goldeberg Variations and enclosed the cycle with his last performance of Goldberg in 1982, somehow he made a full circle with a work that launched him into the international stage; on the other hand Gould without proposing it himself, worked out as a huge turning fork for many young people who turned their whole attention to classical music; in this sense Gould was a true harbinger of vibrant vitality and nurtured the academic music of new airs. So, when he was sent to the extinct U.R.S.S. to give a set of recitals, he was without knowing nurturing a future legend: a child of six years old named Yevgeni Koroliov.

Koroliov's Goldberg ooze idiosyncratic approach, austere and deeply expressive giving to each variation its accurate specific weight. But at the same time spinning them into a granitical unity of sublime grandness.

The marvelous camera work, the overpowering sound and the sheer commitment displayed by this extraordinary artist, is far to usual to watch in these days where the close ups and fireworks tend to remark the pianist and not the work by itself.

This recital in Gewandhaus Hall in 2008 will be reminded for the next years to come as a visible expression of maxim pianism far from the crowding world.

You should acquire this memorable and historical album. You will always rewarded. Don't let it pass.
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