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Christophe Rousset ~ Bach - Goldberg Variations Import

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, January 1, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

One of the finest harpsichord players active today, Christophe Rousset made many excellent recordings for Harmonia Mundi before jumping ship and recording for Polygram. This will probably turn out to be a mistake on his part, as most of his Bach releases haven't even been issued in this country, whereas his Harmonia Mundi titles are still available and going strong. One of the few new recordings of Rousset's that we do have is this first-rate Goldberg Variations, a fine performance by any standard. This piece will always remain one of the ultimate intellectual and emotional challenges for pianists and harpsichordists alike, and Rousset is certainly up to the job. Grab it while you can. --David Hurwitz

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Aria
  2. Variato 1. a 1 Clav.
  3. Variato 2. a 1 Clav.
  4. Variato 3. Canone all'Unisuono. a 1 Clav.
  5. Variato 4. a 1 Clav.
  6. Variato 5. a 1 o vero 2 Clav.
  7. Variato 6. Canone alla Seconda. a 1 Clav.
  8. Variato 7. a 1 o vero 2 Clav. al tempo di Giga
  9. Variato 8. a 2 Clav.
  10. Variato 9. Canone alla Terza. a 1 Clav.
  11. Variato 10. Fughetta. a 1 Clav.
  12. Variato 11. a 2 Clav.
  13. Variato 12. Canone alla Quarta. a 1 Clav.
  14. Variato 13. a 2 Clav.
  15. Variato 14. a 2 Clav.
  16. Variato 15. Canone alla Quinta. a 1 Clav. andante
  17. Variato 16. Ouverture. a 1 Clav.
  18. Variato 17. a 2 Clav.
  19. Variato 18. Canone alla Sexta. a 1 Clav.
  20. Variato 19. a 1 Clav.
  21. Variato 20. a 2 Clav.
  22. Variato 21. Canone alla Settima. a 1 Clav.
  23. Variato 22. a 1 Clav.
  24. Variato 23. a 2 Clav.
  25. Variato 24. Canone all'Ottava. a 1 Clav.
  26. Variato 25. a 2 Clav. adagio
  27. Variato 26. a 2 Clav.
  28. Variato 27. Canone alla Nona. a 2 Clav.
  29. Variato 28. a 2 Clav.
  30. Variato 29. a 1 o vero 2 Clav.
  31. Variato 30. Quodlibet. a 1 Clav.
  32. Aria


Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 1, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Imports
  • ASIN: B000004CYL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,372 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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I think I am not supposed to comment solely on the performer; yet given the work performed and the composer, a comment on either would be superfluous. Neither needs any comment. In the case of such works, the performer is everything; and Christophe Rousset seems to be just about that: everything. His performances in ensemble work are wonderful, but his special gift is evident in solo work such as this. The haprsichord has a reputation for being a "less than" instrument in comparison with the piano: less tonal color, less dynamic range, less yielding of nuance. In some performers' hands this is so. When Rousset plays, the instrument sings. What Toscanini was to the orchestra, Rousset is to his instrument. How he coaxes such fluidity, nuance and sense of melody from it, is beyond any explanation - other than the simple one, that he has sold his soul to God.
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Though my musical activity is on other keyboards (organ, carillon), I have long believed that the Goldberg Variations represents THE greatest piece of music in any genre. Why? It is a triumph in that through all the "intellectual" techniques (canon at every interval from unison to twelfth, fugato, several lively hand-crossing concerto movements), it is, end to end, delightful listening. (This is in decided contrast to "Art of Fugue" and "Canonic Variations on 'Vom Himmel Hoch'" by Bach, both of which are, in total, quite dull listening.) My collection of recordings of this work is large, including four different readings (spanning several decades) by Gustav Leonhardt, Wanda Landowska's brilliant but eccentric reading, Scott Ross, and Rousset. The late Scott Ross and Christophe Rousset shared the common distinction of winning the seldom-awarded First Prize at the prestigious Bruges Harpsichord Competition. Both went on to glorious recording and performing careers, though Ross's life was cut short through his untimely death (age 38 or so). I acquired the Ross and Rousset recordings of Goldberg at the same time, and decided to do an "A-B" comparison of the two, by listening to variation 1 by Rousset, then Variation 1 and 2 by Ross, then 2 and 3 by Rousset, etc. until I had compared the entire work that way. Ross's playing was always elegent, eminently singing and musical. Rousset's playing tends to be a bit more "driven," and he can sound a bit "ill at ease" in passages that are at their best presented in simple elegance. For many of the variations, Ross has the edge for that reason. One certainly couldn't go wrong with either! BUT, the hair-raising excitement of the French Overture-style variation, and a couple of the other really fiery variations, won me over to preferring the Rousset.Read more ›
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As a man who has survived over thirty assassination attempts, Father Melchizedek OP had every reason to be wary as he walked into his Antwerp apartment. True, many of these attempts were organised by his adversaries at Universal Imports or his so-called brothers at SPECTRE - but the majority of them were instigated by his trusty, Hong-Kong born manservant Cato. The Dutch cleric only has himself to blame: he has ordered Cato to assail him with High Romanticism at any given hour to test his resilience. Even so, on the night in question he was exhausted: much of the day had been spent interrogating a recusant as to the location of a copy of Scherchen's Matthew Passion. With the assistance of an Iron Maiden, the information had been forthcoming.

"Cato! Cato !!! Pay attention! This is your employer speaking! I am cancelling the attack orders for tonight! You understand? I know that I told you to show no mercy and to attack and to pay no attention to what I say and even play some Karajan on the odd occasion! But tonight . . . but tonight, I am ordering you to pay attention! You will not attack, Cato!"

"Melchizedek," the High Priest of Period Practice hissed to himself, "I can guarantee you that at this very minute, his fiendish little brain is plotting some new ambush!"

Club in hand, the cleric progressively darted from one room to another, checking out Cato's usual hiding spots. As far as he could tell, the apartment was deserted. Nor was there any evidence of booby-traps. After breathing a sigh of relief, he made himself a hearty alfalfa in pita-bread feast and then settled down in front of his sound-system to refresh himself with some early Buxtehude. Much to his surprise, a copy of Rousset's Goldberg Variations was sitting on a nearby table.
Read more ›
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I haven't heard the whole disk, only the selections offered. But since I know well the variations, I shall respond. (I didn't tamper with the 5 star rating.)
This harpsichord playing is indeed quite good. If I remember right, he used an authentic model and not merely an authentic-sounding instrument.
But I shouldn't compare this playing to Toscanini. The best compliment I can think of is that it sounds like Gould on a harpsichord.
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