Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lara Downes: 'The music on this recording looks back to Bach through different lenses'

[13 WAYS of Looking at the Goldberg: Bach Reimagined; Lara Downes, solo piano; Tritone Records]

13 WAYS of Looking at the Goldberg: Bach Reimagined on Tritone Records (2011) is the second recent compilation of works by a large number of composers we have reviewed. The first was Amy Briggs: Tangos for Piano, Ravello Records RR7808 (2011), whose 22 tracks include Tango-Variations (2:49) by the African American composer Jeffrey Mumford. 13 Ways is also the second recording of new variations on the Goldberg Variations of J.S. Bach which has come to our attention. Robin Holloway: Gilded Goldbergs is a 2-CD set of variations by a single composer for two pianists, the Micallef-Inanga Piano Duo. Jennifer Micallef is from Malta; Glen Inanga is Nigerian. Their recording is Hyperion CDA67360 (2001).

The variations performed by Lara Downes are so unusual and so different from each other the recording seems otherworldly as soon as Fred Lerdahl's Chasing Goldberg begins. We find it refreshing to hear 13 contemporary composers express themselves with total artistic freedom.

On Sept. 14, 2011 AfriClassical posted: “Lara Downes: '13 WAYS of Looking at the Goldberg: Bach Reimagined' by Contemporary Composers.” The complete history of the project can be found at “13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg was commissioned in 2004 by the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.”

Composers and Contributions

Derek Bermel Kontraphunktus

William Bolcom Yet Another Goldberg Variation

Ryan Brown Ornament

Dave Brubeck Chorale, from Chromatic Fantasy Sonata

C. Curtis-Smith Rube Goldberg Variation

David Del Tredici My Goldberg

Lukas Foss Goldmore Variation

Ralf Gothóni Variation on Variation with Variation

Fred Hersch Melancholy Minuet

Jennifer Higdon The Gilmore Variation

Fred Lerdahl Chasing Goldberg

Bright Sheng Variation Fugato

Stanley Walden Fantasy Variation

Mischa Zupko Ghost Variation

Lara Downes writes in the liner notes:
“The music on this recording looks back to Bach through different lenses, and calls back to Bach with different voices.” “Bach's GOLDBERG VARIATIONS are what I remember as my first music. It's such a vivid memory, a little girl in my father's big armchair, listening to Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of the Goldbergs, wondering at the twists and turns of Bach's creation and Gould's imagination.”

“Along with 13 WAYS, I've chosen Bach-inspired works by two great American composers, Dave Brubeck and Lukas Foss, who have both in their inimitable and sometimes surprising ways, been deeply shaped by their love of Bach.”

Disclosure: A review copy of this CD was provided by the record label.

No comments: