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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Peter Tomasz, Bach, Goldberg Variations


When it comes to Johann Sebastian Bach, a lifetime can be devoted to hearing it all and not seem enough. The keyboard/harpsichord works always seem ripe for new readings, and so it is the case today with the Goldberg Variations  in dramatic and exciting interpretations by pianist Peter Tomasz (MSR Classics MS1791).

Maestro Tomasz gives us thoughtful readings of the many ins and outs of the set, tender and wistful at times, other times filled with determined and diverting velocity and agility. Glenn  Gould of course is best known for the velocity approach to Bach on piano. Tomasz heeds his own muse as he wends his way through each variation, crisp and rapid trills as suits Tomasz at key points, a pendulum swinging  infectiousness in the movements he takes rapidly, and a kind of nostalgic tenderness for slow passages. It all manages to come across as personal and illuminating in its own right.

Of course this is Bach at his most brilliant, most inventive. Given that many have turned to playing it, it is is desirable and  fulfilling when we experience a freshening via a viable new reading such as this.  Its many facets seem to lend itself to poetic pianisms, perhaps more so at times than say a typical keyboard fugue. (Though of course there is much room in any harpsichord work for a special pianism.) This Peter Tomasz version is quite masterful enough to be an only version if you do not have the music yet. And for those that know the music well it stands upright nicely as a wonderful expression of it all. Recommended.

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