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I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Jacques Loussier Trio plays Bach's Goldberg Variations

You know when a piece of music is good. People record it in record numbers. Even better yet, they re-arrange and re-work something multiple times. Take the recent Beatles Love album, as an example. Bach's music is in the same camp, if not a more lofty one. And here, the Jacques Loussier Trio perform his BWV 988 on Telarc Jazz. Goldberg Variations My first complaint when listening to these miniatures is the lack of repeats. And what a controversial topic! Bach wrote-in repeats for this binary pieces, and here we get the run-through. Some maybe do not warrant repeating, but some can build upon repetition, and invite the performer(s) to manipulate the music upon second playings. In fact, you could repeat a variation multiple times, creating a so-called multiplicity of variations, upon variations. Loussier does an excellent job at some tracks. The jazzy style is there, and the use of all three instruments (drum set, piano, and bass) all make equal, compelling solutions this Goldberg update. A few tracks lack the re-working. This is where Loussier depends more so on a direct translation of the part, alongside drums and bass. Variation 9 is an example of the first. The theme starts in the bass, and then we add-in the piano. #26 is an other interesting example: Loussier is playing one-handed to deliver a quick sequence of notes--the same notes we'd hear by some pianist playing the Goldbergs straight. But it all comes together in a nice mix, toe tapping guaranteed. Variation 29 is a better example of my second comment, a complaint. It's the variation as Bach wrote it, pretty much, with a little jazzy fluff dressed on top. Not all treatments are equal. Variation 30 is unique in the use of an extended bass solo. When the piano finally comes in, I almost wish some other melody instrument was there, a soprano sax? A trumpet? With bass and drums so easily able to change their sound quality, the piano could almost use a little variation of its own. We could nit-pick all day on an album where they're picking on Bach. The Variationen Goldberg are already a fine work, why mess with success? For one, it's flattery. For another, it's a fun to "shake things up" a bit, musically. There are, on this CD, many moments that will make you smile. A few warts aside (like the recorded sound of Loussier's piano), this release pushes the sound world of Bach's Goldberg Variations with a variety of treatments and styles. If you already admire Bach's Goldeberg Variations, this CD is likely a fitting dessert.

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