Bach: Goldberg Variations (string Trio)

Album cover art for upc 800658201428
Catalog: OX2014
Format: CD

Jonathan Crow, violin; Douglas McNabney, viola; and Matt Haimovitz, cello

J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (arranged for string trio by Dmitri Sitkovetsky)

Wholenote Discoveries - March 2009
There are two recent CDs of the Bach Goldberg Variations in the string trio arrangement by the violinist Dmitri Sitkovetsky. On the first Jonathan Crow and Matt Haimovitz team up with violist Douglas McNabney; the other features Vancouver's Trio Accord - Mary Sokol Brown (violin), Andrew Brown (viola) and Ariel Barnes (cello). As McNabney points out, Bach's music is strong enough to transcend the many transcriptions that have been made of this work; certainly this version, which Sitkovetsky dedicated to Glenn Gould, serves the predominantly three-part keyboard writing extremely well. There are many differences in tempo and track timings here, the latter probably due to the observance - or lack thereof - of repeats as much as anything, but both recordings are extremely satisfying performances. The playing is excellent on both CDs, both from an individual and ensemble viewpoint, and the recording ambience - both were recorded in a church - is warm and resonant. On first hearing I preferred the brightness and contrast in the Trio Accord CD, whereas the Quebec-based ensemble plays with a touch more legato throughout, but on further comparison I'm not so sure; in two outstanding recordings I have a feeling that it's Jonathan Crow and friends who come closest to the spiritual heart of this astonishing work. Terry Robbins J.S. Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations, performed by the acclaimed trio of cellist Matt Haimovitz, violinist Jonathan Crow and violist Douglas McNabney (2007 Juno-Nominated album: Mozart the Mason - “the most essential Mozart anniversary disc so far” Star Ledger).
In 1955, pianist Glenn Gould soared to worldwide acclaim with his interpretation of Bach’s pinnacle work; in honor of the 25th anniversary of Gould’s death Haimovitz, Crow and McNabney record the work and bring it on tour extensively through the US and Canada.
Bach’s universal appeal, one of his best loved works, and this internationally renown, young, charismatic and widely touring ensemble of colleagues from McGill University in Montreal combine to make this one of the hottest classical releases of the year.