Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bach: Goldberg Variations

“Finch's… bold tone suits the haughty French Ouverture, she's fearless in the most taxing figurations and profoundly expressive in the meditative Variation 25...She adroitly side-steps what would seem to be the harp's principal shortcomings compared to a keyboard – the absence of a sustaining pedal and the lack of a damping device – with a nimbleness that quietly cossets and coaxes with its straightforward hand-for-hand transcription.” --BBC Music Magazine ****

“…there's colour and drama aplenty - witness the grandeur and sweeping tirades of Variation 17.” --Gramophone

“Bach's Goldberg Variations have been arranged for everything from string orchestra to accordion with varying degrees of success – but never (complete, at any rate) for the harp. Suddenly we have two very different interpretations on that instrument released simultaneously.

Blassel's is an exquisite reading: the Aria is played almost with a surfeit of warmth and delicacy, as if to impress the potential of its material upon the listener from the outset so as to allow a fuller savouring of the ensuing variations – which are all, without exception, played with a great feeling for overall architecture and interior expressiveness that recalls Hewitt and Tureck in equal measure.

Welsh harpist Catrin Finch observes most of the repeats; tempi are generally on the brisk side; tonal and dynamic variation is minimal but telling when it occurs. Blassel observes no repeats (thus leaving room on the disc for the 14 Goldberg Canons, which Blassel performs with his former teacher Fabrice Pierre); tempi are generally measured, especially in the canonic variations; tonal and dynamic variation is maximal, as is the variety of articulation.

Perhaps it's to do with the differences between the instruments – Finch's modern harp is bright and thickly resonant; Blassel's 1904 Erard delicate and muted – but Finch's playing is more extrovert and forthright (although sometimes, as in Var 25, disappointingly prosaic), Blassel's more introvert and nuanced (you'll never hear a more magically delicate account of Var 28).
Either way, both versions have much to recommend them.” --The Gramophone Classical Music Guide

MP3 320 · 143 MB

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