Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (1741-42)
Bernard Lagace (organ)
Recorded Immaculate Conception Church, Montreal, 1995
Analekta 23068 [77:32]
It's always a nice change of pace to listen to the Goldbergs performed
by a worthy Bach performing artist and played on a very attractive-sounding
modern organ. Having just given this Bernard Legace disc its final two
spins, I can confidently report that listening to it is a highly pleasurable
experience. Legace uses the organ to charm and seduce the listener, and
I think he's done a successful job of it. Also, his registrations are
quite pleasing and rhythmic flow is exceptional.
However, the charm and seduction so prevalent in the performances are
also problematic to a degree. Given that the organ is the supreme
instrument to convey celebration and majesty, I am disappointed that
Legace did not instill more of these traits into his interpretation.
In those variations that demand majesty such as the No. 16 "Overture"
and No. 30 "Quodlibet", Legace comes through splendidly, but he discards
it entirely elsewhere.
While I'm on my "complaint" jag, I'll also mention that Legace displays
no particular interest in examining the underside of the human condition;
that's a shame, because the organ is also made to order for digging into
the dark side of life. One last set of reservations - Legace favors a
very smooth delivery with rounded contours that gets rather ho-hum after
a few variations; this is not a very interesting performance of the
Goldberg Variations. Combined with slowish tempos in the faster variations,
excitement is another quality little in evidence.
Don's Conclusions: Although Legace's performance is a fine one, I do
feel that he has missed a sterling opportunity to give us a fantastic
Goldbergs on organ. My basic reservation is that Legace has not used
the organ to its best advantage, and I don't really see much point in
doing an organ version of a harpsichord work without employing those
For those still interested in the Legace, it is available alone as a
single disc or part of a large box of the complete Bach organ works along
with organ performances of the Well Tempered Clavier and a few other
non-organ compositions. For my part, it would be fine to hear this
Goldbergs again in the future, but I also wouldn't mind if that didn't
happen. Overall, only recommended to avid organ enthusiasts.
[log in to unmask]
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery. For more information,
go to: http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html