I love music.

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

Goldberg Variations - DongHyek Lim

Goldberg VariationsDong-Hyek Lim One of the pieces that's been with me for quite some time is Bach's collection of variations on a ground bass, BWV 988. His so-called Goldberg Variations or "Aria with 30 variations," is one of his major works. As I've told the story before, I discovered baroque music through recordings in my public library when I was still in high school. Someone's wise purchase there of recordings by Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert led them to pick up Pinnock's reading of BWV 988. It was a blue cover, with a golden harpsichord on the cover. (Just to be clear, a harpsichord with gold accents, not a gold-plated instrument. Pinnock is no Liberace.) I never bought that recording, but I did recently pick up one on piano by the young Korean pianist, Dong-Hyek Lim. It's recorded in a rather fresh, open acoustic, but close enough to capture the percussive nature of the instrument. I'd say as piano recordings go, and especially those capturing the music of Bach, the folks at EMI did a superb job. Mr. Lim is playing in a dangerous area. Being the age he is, he's got credibility yet to earn. He can't stray too far off a path, so to speak, with interpretation. The Goldbergs also offer any pianist to flaunt their technique. Not comparing Lim's work to any other one pianist, there's something in his recording that's missing in many others. It's a sense of emphasis. Lim's constantly pulling out little licks, little themes, and little microphrases with emphasis in touch and in volume level. It's such a welcome interpretation. And yes, he's got excellent technical chops. When he chooses, he can play all them notes just as fast as he likes, and makes it sound like it was nothing at all. The pianist Vladimir Feltsman did a reading of the Goldbergs that too made emphasized gestures. He went further afield than Lim did. Some might suggest he earned the right to, with a more established career before recording the Goldbergs. Or, that he's just a more "out there," creative pianist. Lim manages to play along that fine line between meeting expectations, offering us an authentic interpretation, and tickling our fancy just enough. I wonder what I'll be saying about Lim's second Goldberg recording, say, 40 years from now. Today Dong Hyek Lim offers listeners a very engaging reading of Bach's Goldberg Variations on piano. His interpretive license is smart and I find myself nodding in agreement to what he's chosen to emphasize here and there. Beyond the technical bravura spent on some variations, there's depth too. Warmly recommended.

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