Klára Würtz Aces Bach’s Goldberg Variations

J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations

Review by: Jed Distler


What a delightful Goldberg Variations recording! Observing all repeats, Klára Würtz generally favors brisk yet never breakneck tempos, while conveying the music’s inherent joy through spontaneous-sounding inflections of phrase and perky accents. Granted, her tempos slow down a bit during the course of certain cross-handed variations originally scored for two keyboard manuals, but isn’t that true of most pianists?

More importantly, however, is how Würtz makes the familiar sound fresh. Her uncommon attention to left hand upbeats in Variation 7, for example, fortifies the music’s characterful lilt, while No. 9’s canonic voices flexibly and warmly converse. No. 11’s frequently tangled crossing voices emerge with uncommon point and clarity, while No. 13’s pearly cantabile is anchored by a strong left hand presence. In an era where many pianists drool and emote over the “Black Pearl” 25th Variation, it’s heartening to hear the firm basic rhythm governing Würtz’s singing line. The momentum not only continues but appreciably surges in the concluding Variations 26 through 30. That this splendidly engineered release more than holds its own in face of fierce catalog competition is a tribute to Würtz’s deeply musical, vibrantly communicative, and utterly alive Bach pianism. Highly recommended.


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