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Discussion: Bach: Goldberg Variations - Gunther Rost

Posts: 9

Post by FullRangeMan June 19, 2009 (1 of 9)
I would like to bring your attention to this new release by Oehms Classic(Germany) of this traditional work. It is amazing the grace and lightness that this quick tempo gave way to this Variations,
comes to sounds like Mozart grace.
The booklet does not inform if this rapid tempo arrangement was made by the organist Mr. Gunther Rost or already exist and I am not aware. So how Iam a audiophile and not an expert on music,
I asking you music scholars guys: >> What is this fast tempo in this wonderful SACD ?

Post by Geohominid June 19, 2009 (2 of 9)
FullRangeMan said:

I would like to bring your attention to this new release by Oehms Classic(Germany) of this traditional work. It is amazing the grace and lightness that this quick tempo gave way to this Variations,
comes to look like Mozart.
The booklet does not inform if this rapid tempo arrangement was made by the organist Mr. Gunther Rost or already exist and I am not aware. So how Iam a audiophile and not an expert on music,
I asking you music scholars guys: >> What is this fast tempo in this wonderful SACD ?

Hi,
Glad to hear you have so much enjoyed the Goldbergs, one of Bach's greatest masterpieces. Bach does not give any tempo indications, as keyboard players of the day would be expected to know this from the context and the subtitles such as "aria", "fughetta" etc. Rather than huge differences in tempo between modern performers, I wonder if your organist has merely omitted some or all of the repeats. Bach marks repeats for one or two sections in every variation, and with all repeats taken (as done by most modern pianists, although some decades ago, they were often dropped) this nearly doubles the time taken by a performance without repeats. You might only notice the repeats if you are following the music with a score. So I wonder if it is not the actual tempo which is faster, but the overall timing that you are referring to? The time signature of the piece is 3/4, as in waltz-time, and like most of Bach's music is based on a dance form, so it certainly should be played in a lilting manner.

I see that Schmeding has a new organ version due for release, and I'm surprised that so few of the harpsichord (as intended by Bach) and piano versions have been reviewed on the site. A truly classic performance on the piano is Perahia's Bach: Goldberg Variations - Perahia.

Regards,
John

Post by FullRangeMan June 20, 2009 (3 of 9)
Geohominid said:
Dear Geohominid,
Thankyou for your comprehensive response. It is possible that some Repeats are missing as the performance are compact and concise, but clearly the tempi is fast performed,
its not 3/4 or 4/4, its a more fast tempo. You could listen music samples on the JCP/Amazons links to see as the performance is fast and beautiful.

The Track 6 is one of the fastest (the 5º Vars), are stunning good, the Tempo seems a Presto, around 160 BPM in my metronome.
The Oehms Label have other Goldberg Organ-SACD with the regular performance and the full 74 minutes time.
Best Wishes, Gustavo

Post by Peter June 20, 2009 (4 of 9)
Gould's first recording in 1955 took about 44 mins (I don't have it, it's a figure off the top of my head) and has very few if any repeats.

Some which observe every repeat need a second CD/SACD. So, you'll need to wake up to change disc which rather defeats the object of the exercise.

Post by FullRangeMan June 20, 2009 (5 of 9)
Peter said:
Gould's first recording in 1955 took about 44 mins (I don't have it, it's a figure off the top of my head) and has very few if any repeats.
Some which observe every repeat need a second CD/SACD. So, you'll need to wake up to change disc which rather defeats the object of the exercise.

Seems there is two versions of this work, one short of 45 minutes and other long, maybe complete of 74 minutes.
A similar case is the Paganini 24 Caprices, there is various shorter versions, there was one version for just one vinyl disc with only the first movement of each variation.
The complete Paganini Variations with the Ritornelli is TWO SACD at Paganini: 24 Caprices - Accardo a splendid Italian SACD too.
Regards,

Post by canonical June 20, 2009 (6 of 9)
I think tis quite clear that Bach didn't write the Goldbergs for organ. They were written for a harpsichord with two manuals ... which is also why some of the passages are quite tricky to play on the single keyboard of a modern piano ... with somewhat awkward crossing of the hands.

And whereas Bach's music generally transfers well onto almost any instrument, I don't think the Goldberg's are suited to an organ. The Goldbergs are spritely, and bouncy, and articulated, and accented ... effects which are difficult to achieve, if not impossible, on an organ. I've listened to bits of this organ SACD jpc ... and for example, the Canon on the Sixth (track 18) and the frothy and delightful 19th variation (track 20) simply don't work on the organ.

If you like it on organ, I suspect you will enjoy it even more on piano ... I have some recordings on harpsichord too ... though piano remains my preferred rendition.

My preference is for Gould's 1981 recording on CD (either the original 1981 DDD, or the revised redbook 2002 CD release produced from the 1981 analog master tapes), as well as for Murray Perahia's absolutely superb version on SACD.

[The Gould Goldberg's on SACD is just a bad remastering of the 1981 DDD, doesn't add any further resolution, and sounds weird, so cannot be recommended.]

Post by canonical June 20, 2009 (7 of 9)
I thought I might address some comments in the review by FullRangeMan, who writes:

------------------------------------------------------
Maybe for the religious purposes of the Bach time, the lento tempo was well suited.
So, when I listen music samples of this SACD at the JPC link I was very surprised, this new arrangement(for me) for organ with a fast tempo realy make the music shine, this is a musical fond
for my personal taste. Bach's friend Balthasar Schmid published the G Vars in 1741, Bach assingned it to the harpsichord, not to the organ as could be usual in a liturgical composition.

Why this SACD have a fast tempo ? And all the others SACDs of this work have a slow tempo ? After afew messages with Geohominid and Peter, seems clear there is 2 versions of the G Vars,
one short of 45 minutes and other long of 74 minutes. Propably the short version is always played with a fast tempo. Certainly this fast tempo is a essential improvement to listen the Goldberg.
------------------------------------------------------

1. The Goldberg variations are not liturgical; they are secular. Of course, Bach was a religious chap, and chorales and such infused his life, and may even appear in the quodlibet, for instance, as do popular folk songs of the time. Nevertheless, the work is not liturgical, in any sense.

2. There are not two 'versions' of the Goldberg variations. [There was an original manuscript discovered in 1975 -- but the differences have nothing to do with long and short versions, but rather to tiny things like staccato dots, mordents, the 7th variation is marked: tempo di giga in the original, and the 25th is marked adagio in the original.] In essence, there is no such thing as a short and long version of the Goldberg variations. There is just one set of Goldbergs ... which different people choose to play with or without a number of repeats, and at different tempi, as others have commented here. This alone is the cause of any timing differences for the collected whole.

3. Having listened to the JPC soundtrack, the version on this SACD organ is not 'speedy' nor fast ... it's really quite standard.

Post by FullRangeMan June 20, 2009 (8 of 9)
canonical said:

I thought I might address some comments in the review by FullRangeMan, who writes:

------------------------------------------------------
Maybe for the religious purposes of the Bach time, the lento tempo was well suited.
So, when I listen music samples of this SACD at the JPC link I was very surprised, this new arrangement(for me) for organ with a fast tempo realy make the music shine, this is a musical fond
for my personal taste. Bach's friend Balthasar Schmid published the G Vars in 1741, Bach assingned it to the harpsichord, not to the organ as could be usual in a liturgical composition.

Why this SACD have a fast tempo ? And all the others SACDs of this work have a slow tempo ? After afew messages with Geohominid and Peter, seems clear there is 2 versions of the G Vars,
one short of 45 minutes and other long of 74 minutes. Propably the short version is always played with a fast tempo. Certainly this fast tempo is a essential improvement to listen the Goldberg.
------------------------------------------------------

1. The Goldberg variations are not liturgical; they are secular. Of course, Bach was a religious chap, and chorales and such infused his life, and may even appear in the quodlibet, for instance, as do popular folk songs of the time. Nevertheless, the work is not liturgical, in any sense.

2. There are not two 'versions' of the Goldberg variations. [There was an original manuscript discovered in 1975 -- but the differences have nothing to do with long and short versions, but rather to tiny things like staccato dots, mordents, the 7th variation is marked: tempo di giga in the original, and the 25th is marked adagio in the original.] In essence, there is no such thing as a short and long version of the Goldberg variations. There is just one set of Goldbergs ... which different people choose to play with or without a number of repeats, and at different tempi, as others have commented here. This alone is the cause of any timing differences for the collected whole.

3. Having listened to the JPC soundtrack, the version on this SACD organ is not 'speedy' nor fast ... it's really quite standard.

1- Of course G.Vars were not composed for a mass or worship ritual in a Church at Sunday morning, but if you read the booklet you will understand there are various religious and numerical features
that Bach used to shape this work. I will change the word ''religious'' for other more suited in the review.

2- Iam not referring to the Bach partiture/manuscript/score, I referring to the 2 versions on some recordings on LP/CD etc, one 45 minutes, other 74 minutes.

3-This Gunther Rost performance clearly has a faster tempo on some tracks as the 5º V (Track 6), than the others versions, inclusive there is a other organ SACD version on this same Oemhs Label,
Bach: Goldberg Variations - Albrecht that have a slow tempo, also is avaliable on JPC to listen samples. Some tracks of this Gunther Rost performance use the regular/standard/normal tempo indeed.

Post by FullRangeMan June 20, 2009 (9 of 9)
canonical said:
Various corrections made on the review. There is OK for you now ?

Closed