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Dip Your Ears: No. 262 (#GoldbergReflections)

available at Amazon
J.S.Bach et al., Goldberg Reflections
Niklas Liepe / NDR RPO / Jamie Phillips
(Sony Germany)

There’s no dearth of Goldberg Variations in all shapes and forms. If you want to stick out of the crowd, and you haven’t Deutsche Grammophone’s marketing department behind you, you better do something pretty special. That’s what Niklas Liepe is trying to do, on this Sony-issued recording. For starters, the 30-year old is a violinist, not a keyboard player. Further, he doesn’t just play Andreas Tarkmann’s arragnement for string trio, orchestra and harpsichord (in essence a beefed-up Sitkovetzky arrangement), he also combines the 13 Variations which he chose for his project (plus the opening and closing aria, of course) with eleven newly composed, semi-precious Relflections-on-Variations. Hence the title of the record: #Goldberg Reflections.

From composers like Dominik Dieterle, Moritz Eggert, Friedrich Heinrich Kern, and Stephan Koncz, all the way to the fine epilogue of Konstantia Gourzi’s, we get an air of Piazzolla, wafts of glass-harmonica, and Schnittke-like molten intermezzi which, in their own, largely introvert ways, dance around the temple that is Bach. The fact that the actual Goldberg Variations morph into neo-baroque suites, brings them a few steps closer to some of these new compositoins. Open-eared Bach-lovers will find the whole project rather enjoyable; a diversion that’s certainly more diverting than hearing just yet another new recording of the real thing. The fact that Liepe performs his sometimes solistic, sometimes chamber-embedded parts impeccably – as do the strings of the NDR Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover (themselves texture-enriched by the recurring harpsichord) – further helps the venture be a very happy listening-experience.


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