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Goldberg Vars/Italian Cto/Fren [Original recording remastered]

Johann Sebastian Bach Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.98
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Product Details


Disc: 1
1. I. Ouverture
2. II. Courante
3. III. Gavote I & II
4. IV. Passepied I & II
5. V. Sarabande
6. VI. Bouree I & II
7. VII. Gigue
8. VIII. Echo
9. Aria
10. Variation 1
See all 17 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Variation 16/Variation 17
2. Variation 18
3. Variation 19
4. Variation 20
5. Variation 21/Variation 22
6. Variation 23/Variation 24
7. Variation 25/Variation 26
8. Variation 27/Variation 28
9. Variation 29
10. Variation 30
See all 25 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Audio CD
So many critics seem to pan Igor, as has already been done here. Igor's style is more Land Rover than Rolls Royce. Good. Sometimes you need to not drive between the lines. Let Igor take you off-road with Bach.
Speaking of which, I once wrecked a race car while listening to a tape I made of Kipnis' Italian Variations. I recall saying afterward that I couldn't have picked a better piece of music for which to flip a car end-over-end. Had it been played by someone else, I may have never remembered which album I was playing at the time. Sometimes it's good to sit up straight and pluck strings, sometimes it's good to grind metal.
This CD was originally mutliple vinyl LP's, of which I own all. I've also heard much of these same works by Gustav Leonhardt, Trevor Pinnock, Christopher Hogwood and several others. Igor does certainly put his own spin on virtually everything he plays, especially in hierarchies of tempo and phrasing. You can also hear at times his massive hands pounding his steel-framed harpsichords. Steel? Yes. His metal harpsichords ring like bells (as harpsichords shouldn't), but at least they aren't pianos. It's not such a big deal. It actually adds new strength of timbre at times that gives certain pieces a "boost."
You have to understand the man. For decades he toured the USA, loading his two Robinette-Rutkowski harpsichords into his Volkswagen Microbus. Maybe that explains the steel. Maybe Igor just likes a louder harpsichord with stronger bass tones and lingering high-pitch reverb. Igor plays for fun. He's a clever speaker, an intellectual, practically a comedian. Heck, he even played a villain in a 1970's "B" horror movie. He knows the rules. He just treats them more as suggestions. He does it how HE likes, even when recording.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Kipnis was above all a Unique Player June 9 2002
Format:Audio CD
The average classical music aficionado interested in the music of J.S. Bach will be very happy to have this recording around - not because of the Goldberg Variations, but because it includes the brutally under-recorded "French Ouverture" (BWV 831) and the "Italian Variations" (BWV 989), both of which are not particularly well-represented on disc.
The first thing that strikes the listener about this recording - taken from the famed 1970s pressings done for EMI - is Igor Kipnis' musical exuberance and enthusiasm. Although this is welcome, it is somewhat ironic that despite the bubbliness of the interpreter, the music ends up being somewhat understated. Instead of focusing on the subtle details and deliciousness of each phrase, Kipnis contents himself with often mowing through a piece and sacrificing clarity and harmonic interest for interpretations that are sometimes more worthy of background music.
The playing is dry and tends towards the inexpressive, and the Rutkowski & Robinette harpsichord - a copy of a Hass German 18th-century two-manual harpsichord including a 16' stop - has an unpleasant and metallic sound. Furthermore, it is clear that Kipnis has not done his homework (although he tries to decieve us): he follows double-dotting and other period style aspects in the French ouverture, but then he overdots things where they were not indicated, and his ornamentation and phrasing in the Goldbergs are not thought out particularly well. Also, it seems that his playing is made up of extremes - either overwrought over-legato or a brutal touch - that makes him sound like a bad pianist rather than a good harpsichordist. A dissapointment, and not the best example of the playing of a really superb musician.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kipnis adds a colorful dimension to these masterworks. Sept. 30 2002
By Ian Firestone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
So many critics seem to pan Igor, as has already been done here. Igor's style is more Land Rover than Rolls Royce. Good. Sometimes you need to not drive between the lines. Let Igor take you off-road with Bach.
Speaking of which, I once wrecked a race car while listening to a tape I made of Kipnis' Italian Variations. I recall saying afterward that I couldn't have picked a better piece of music for which to flip a car end-over-end. Had it been played by someone else, I may have never remembered which album I was playing at the time. Sometimes it's good to sit up straight and pluck strings, sometimes it's good to grind metal.
This CD was originally mutliple vinyl LP's, of which I own all. I've also heard much of these same works by Gustav Leonhardt, Trevor Pinnock, Christopher Hogwood and several others. Igor does certainly put his own spin on virtually everything he plays, especially in hierarchies of tempo and phrasing. You can also hear at times his massive hands pounding his steel-framed harpsichords. Steel? Yes. His metal harpsichords ring like bells (as harpsichords shouldn't), but at least they aren't pianos. It's not such a big deal. It actually adds new strength of timbre at times that gives certain pieces a "boost."
You have to understand the man. For decades he toured the USA, loading his two Robinette-Rutkowski harpsichords into his Volkswagen Microbus. Maybe that explains the steel. Maybe Igor just likes a louder harpsichord with stronger bass tones and lingering high-pitch reverb. Igor plays for fun. He's a clever speaker, an intellectual, practically a comedian. Heck, he even played a villain in a 1970's "B" horror movie. He knows the rules. He just treats them more as suggestions. He does it how HE likes, even when recording. He's fearless and open, in life and music.
I prefer other musician's musical interpretations over Igor's in many cases. But at least as often, as critical as I am of 16th to 18th Century keyboard music, I frequently find myself thinking, "nicely done, but Igor's version just has more life." Being a purist, I often have to play Igor's albums several times before I start nodding and grinning at particular moments. This album was no exception.
If you're a purist who hates surprises, Igor's not for you. If you're the type that likes to contrast various interpretations of the same music, you will find several gems on this and other Kipnis albums that you'll be glad to have heard.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST Oct. 17 2007
By John J. Schauer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'm amazed that previous reviewers, although apparently eager to dis one of America's greatest harpsichordists, failed to note the most salient feature of Kipnis's Goldbergs: the fact that he not only was one of the first to take every repeat of every variation, but also ornamented every repeat in a tasteful and often dazzling way. It's especially impressive in the canon variations, where he is careful to ornament the theme the same way in both voices.

Further, it is always dangerous to criticize the sound of a harpsichord on the basis of a recording, since the way it is miked is what ultimately determines how it will sound. I was privileged to hear, meet and talk with Kipnis at two separate harpsichord festivals held at Westminster Choir College in the early 1970s. On both occasions he brought his large Rutkowski and Robinette "German" instrument, complete with pedals and 16-foot stop, and he even allowed some of us attending to play on it. I'm here to tell you that instrument had one of the most gorgeous timbres I've ever heard on a harpsichord. Yes, it had a metal frame, but that didn't make it sound at all "metalic." A metal frame might mute the resonance of the harpsichord case, but it does not contribute a sound of its own. (The instrument was so heavy that one year, while a team of six men were moving the instrument, one of them actually got a hernia.) Kipnis's own touch on the instrument was gossamer, free of mechanical noise. I don't know whatever happened to that particular harpsichord, but it is a priceless treasure.

Performers at the Westminster festivals would give a recital one evening and a seminar the following morning, and it was clearly evident that nothing Kipnis did was capricious or unfounded. He had made an exhaustive study of ornamenting, and if his conclusions were not the same as some listeners might arrive at, they were always based on important source material.

His performance of the Goldbergs--both the one I heard live and on the recording he made around the same time--is spectacular. Truth to tell, his program at the second festival (comprising all fantasias) made nowhere near the same impression as his Goldbergs. I would never want to be without Landowska's second (RCA) recording of the work, but Kipnis's is right up there in terms of being indispensible.

It is illuminating to compare Kipnis's recording with the appalling travesty of Rosalyn Tureck's recording on harpsichord (not piano) that came out on Columbia at around the same time. She also took each repeat, but her ponderous tempos, excessive ritards and ham-fisted technique made each repeat pure agony rather than a delightful variant. One might think that repeating each of 32 variations would create a sense of tedium, as Tureck does so excruciatingly, but with Kipnis's imaginative ornamentation, the effect is exactly the opposite--exhilarating!

Hearing Kipnis within the context of a festival with such other legendary harpsichordists as Sylvia Marlowe, Fernando Valenti, Ralph Kirkpatrick and Gustav Leonhardt made it clear that Igor Kipnis was without question one of the finest harpsichordists America has ever produced. His Goldbergs are not to be missed.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kipnis was above all a Unique Player June 9 2002
By Harpsichord Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The average classical music aficionado interested in the music of J.S. Bach will be very happy to have this recording around - not because of the Goldberg Variations, but because it includes the brutally under-recorded "French Ouverture" (BWV 831) and the "Italian Variations" (BWV 989), both of which are not particularly well-represented on disc.
The first thing that strikes the listener about this recording - taken from the famed 1970s pressings done for EMI - is Igor Kipnis' musical exuberance and enthusiasm. Although this is welcome, it is somewhat ironic that despite the bubbliness of the interpreter, the music ends up being somewhat understated. Instead of focusing on the subtle details and deliciousness of each phrase, Kipnis contents himself with often mowing through a piece and sacrificing clarity and harmonic interest for interpretations that are sometimes more worthy of background music.
The playing is dry and tends towards the inexpressive, and the Rutkowski & Robinette harpsichord - a copy of a Hass German 18th-century two-manual harpsichord including a 16' stop - has an unpleasant and metallic sound. Furthermore, it is clear that Kipnis has not done his homework (although he tries to decieve us): he follows double-dotting and other period style aspects in the French ouverture, but then he overdots things where they were not indicated, and his ornamentation and phrasing in the Goldbergs are not thought out particularly well. Also, it seems that his playing is made up of extremes - either overwrought over-legato or a brutal touch - that makes him sound like a bad pianist rather than a good harpsichordist. A dissapointment, and not the best example of the playing of a really superb musician.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last on CD! Dec 22 2010
By Paradijsvogel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I own the original LP records, which I bought secondhand, tics and all. At last tic-free on CD : the most daring & musical performance I know (I have over 40 recordings of BWV988). Do listen to this perfect synthesis of scolarship, musical joie de vivre and ornamental good taste.
Enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars ~Harpsichord fan! April 12 2014
By ~Sixthorn_Reign. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
~I love listening to the harpsichord music here. I would recommend this to any who enjoy listening to the harpsichord.
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