Sorry to answer so late, but I had a busy week
Thanks very much for your support, and your indulgence regarding my poor cassette tape !
Also, you save me quite a long time in voting against Chris' suggestion of cutting each variation from the whole bunch ! Finally I am looking forward to hearing your Rameau pieces. The 'Gavotte variée' was my first experience in this field, and I have a special tenderness for it...
I am just becoming all red reading your first post
! Maybe your enthusiasm comes from Bach much more than from my modest interpretation ? Maybe you hadn't listened this extraordinary music for some years, and your reunion with the Goldberg family is blowing you up? By the way, since the time when I recorded them, I kept the memory of an unsatisfactory work, with plenty of flaws. It is only because I was rather surprised that they were not so bad that I dared submitting them to PS; of course my indulgence came from the great joy of being 'back to Bach', feeling that the Cantor's music is something we should never leave for long - an opinion probably shared by others here at PS ! Anyway, many thanks: your feedback gives me motivation to spend another 20 years practicicing alone in my cave !
Also many thanks for your kind appreciation, from (one of) the first Bach's disciple at PS. As usual, your view is very sharp and balanced in your judgement. As for the question of cutting or keeping the variations together, I agree with Eddy's opinion, not only because of my lazinness. Even if each variation can be considered as a consistent, self-bearing work, one must take a good part of the tour to really access to this paradisiac world. Actually the global structure of the Goldberg is a magnificent architecture, with progressions in the Canons series - I will post you an addendum to the presentation - that you loose if you only pick variations frome place to place. But the Cantor knew that it could be difficult for the listener to stay still during 40, or even 80 minutes without moving*. So that the natural way of listening the Goldberg is really to start by the first half, which terminates by a slow, meditative and minor mood variation. Then, after a rest - did Bach invent the modern concert interval ? - you come back into the Goldberg through an 'Ouverture à la française' (here my national pride can only be excited !), and you get (hopefully) an even higher emotional experience. Note that 20' + 20' is more or less the format of the old LPs, which was in my opinion much closer to the human metabolism than the full 1-hour CD duration.
To come back to the ideal listening format of Goldbergs, I wouldn't be of the same opinion for the Well-Tempered Clavier, that I had always found paramount, but difficult to hear in continuity.
Thank you to bring some contradiction in this otherwise too consensual debate ! Regarding the tempo:
- within a variation, I may accelerate a little. I agree this is something that can be criticized. Fortunately, I find now that I can sustain a more stable tempo in this kind of pieces, probably an effect of aging and loosing a part of youth impetuosity...
- from one variation to another one: I don't know what is the state-of-the-art among the musicologist community - I know there have been many progresses in the last 30 years about how this music was played by the ancients. But my personnal listener experience is the following: it is agreable to hear changes and contrasts, provided, of course, that they are compatible with the music, rather than hearing a long and uniform series of pieces played at the same strength and same tempo. If Bach gave little or no indication in terms of tempi and dynamics and attacks etc., this is IMO to let the performer taking options. Of course, the good taste must lead him. What is good taste ? Big question...
A last question not addressed by any of you to date: the repetitions ('reprise' in French, not sure about the correct translation). For a live performance, my opinion is that they must be played, since, for the listener, and given the density and the perfection of this music, the pleasure you get is double at the second listening of each half-variation. Glenn Gould never played it. As for recordings, I have mixed views in this field. I wonder about yours...
Of cours, with repetitions, the Goldberg last about one hour and half, filling a whole concert program.