Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Bach Goldberg Variations

Steven Devine (harpsichord)

Chandos CHAN0780

Bach's Goldberg variations have been synonymous for decades with the two recordings by Glenn Gould (1955 and 1982) on Steinways whose actions had been calibrated to give a light touch and a relatively brittle sound characteristic of the harpsichord. So iconic have these accounts become that we might almost forget that this mighty baroque edifice was conceived for a double-manual harpsichord.

The instrument used on this excellent recording by Steven Devine is by Colin Booth, based on a Fleischer model from 1710. The individual colours are delightful as are the combinations, which Devine uses to intelligent effect to represent Bach's counterpoint.


Among the many attractive features of his playing are neatness of ornaments, rhythmic drive and a flair for timing important structural moments. Care is paid to texture balance in the evolving sequence of Bach's canons at progressively widening intervals.


Around that scaffolding Devine weaves an attractive design of 'free' variations, highlights here being the catchy tempo for the Giga (variation 7) and his no frills mock-pomposity of the French Ouverture (variation 16 - which ends with a delightfully suave final cadence).


Steven Devine navigates convincingly through Bach's masterpiece and is well supported throughout by Booth's harpsichord which proves more than equal to the task.


Highly recommended!


John Irving