Challenge Classics is proud to present a new account of Bach’s Goldberg Variations by the critically acclaimed young pianist Hannes Minnaar. It is his 8th DSD release at NativeDSD Music. His rendition of Goldbergs sums up all the features of a ‘contemporary’ interpretation at the highest degree:
- Transparent, detailed, and crystal clear phrasing: each and all notes are discernible.
- A supreme – but not artificial nor mannered – control and care of tone and sound: touch, color and timbre are all fruit of a clearly deep insight and work.
- A smooth flow of the discourse: a solid overall concept of the work structure and a plain, simple (never emphasized) ‘singing’ of the melodic line. (Even when he takes a very slow tempo – as in the famous Variation no. 25, about 30% slower than usual – he always sustains the melody, which means it is not the tempo that makes the melody living, but the capacity to make it flow, to ‘connect’ sounds and silences).
- These Goldbergs are not told as a narrative: it is not a dramatic tale, but the architectural structure is well visible. It is not a story. It is a three-dimensional visual work of art.
- Northern Star productions gives Minnaar the sound that perfectly matches his concept of the work. The rest is made by the unique Chris Maene Straight Strung Concert Grand CM005 piano generously supplied by Piano’s Maene.
This is a ‘Goldberg’ for the 21st Century.
Hannes Minnaar – Piano
Total time: 01:37:30
|Analog to Digital Converters|
dCS, Merging Technologies with Merging+Clock
Bert van der Wolf
Avalon Acoustic & Musikelectronic Geithain
|Original Recording Format|
Chris Maene Straight Strung Concert Grand CM005 generously supplied by Piano's Maene
Bert van der Wolf
Martijn van der Wolf
Bert van der Wolf
De Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on August 3-6, 2020
|Release Date||September 29, 2021|
This is a wonderful new recording of the Goldberg Variations that is delightfully fresh in it’s interpretation and performance… His playing is transparent and detailed, with crystal-clear phrasing. There is supreme control of touch and color but nothing sounds in the least artificial or mannered. Even where there is a very slow tempo, as in the notorious Variation No. 24, he sustains the melody and allows the music to flow. All in all, his performance is one of deep insight.
And, as delightful as this Goldberg is, don’t pass up listening to the bonus disc containing “Gedeanken zu Bach” by twentieth century composer Daan Manneke…this work makes a nice counterpoint to the Variations and is presented as a stand-alone work on this album. This by Daan Manneke is deserving of our full attention.
These wonderful performances are further enhanced by the utter clarity of the Chris Maene Straight Strung Concert Grand piano which Minnaar plays (see below for more information), and by the translucent sonics in which master recording engineer Bert van der Wolf captures the music.
The Classic Review
Hannes Minnaar showed impressive advocacy for romantic piano transcriptions to Bach, in his “Bach Inspirations” album of 2013. In this case he is “back to basics” if you will, playing the original score along with a contemporary piece, Daan Manneke’s “Gedanken zu Bach”.
There’s a quiet sense of occasion in Minnaar’s opening aria and following variations. His ornamentations are more subtle on repeats and although he plays some of the variations faster, they never sound capricious. At 9’12” the “black pearl” variation is on the slow side but is impressively cohesive.
I particularly liked Minnaar’s way of differentiating between styles of variations – Variations 17 and 18 sound remarkably different yet related, as they should – and the care with which he treats each short and long notes. The recording in this case is excellent, highlighting every articulation and dynamic change.
Minnaar holds this masterpiece together as a complete whole that will reveal itself more with repeated listening.
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