The touch and musicianship of the Hungarian pianist Klára Würtz is amply attested by a substantial catalogue of Brilliant Classics and Piano Classics albums stretching from Mozart to Bartók. Her latest recording turns to a pillar of the keyboard repertoire, the variation set composed by J.S. Bach in 1741 as the fourth and final volume of his compendious Clavier-Übung (Keyboard exercise) project.
Practical instruction, entertainment and profound expression went hand in hand for Bach: one artistic goal never obscured the others. However, few of his works attain all three goals with the sublime mastery of the Goldberg Variations. The prowess of the performer is tested and placed on show as much as the ingenuity of the creative imagination in Bach’s most comprehensive response to the variation genre.
‘Composed for connoisseurs, for the refreshment of their spirits’: the composer’s dedication and introduction makes the artistic intent of the Goldberg Variations plain. Every third variation in the series of 30 is a canon, following an ascending pattern. The variations that intervene between the canons are also arranged in a pattern, following an order of canon, genre piece (such as a minuet or gigue) and a more freely developed and ornate fantasia. The whole set is bookended by an aria in the style of a sarabande which already presents the theme in decorated form as a grave chaconne.
The poised classicism of Klára Würtz’s pianism makes this new recording of the Goldbergs an album to be keenly anticipated by all pianophiles and lovers of Bach. She takes all the repeats, and plays with the full armoury of the modern piano’s tonal capabilities.
Klára Würtz on Brilliant Classics and Piano Classics
‘A fine blend of style and brilliant assurance… refreshingly devoid of excess or extravagance.’ Gramophone (Liszt, 93786)
‘Her superlative artistry is second to none… masterful, awe-inspiring playing that is immune to any type of criticism.’ Fanfare (Kodály/Janáček, PCL0107)
‘Something special… under Wiirtz's supremely capable fingers, these “little“ pieces have a degree of nuance, color, variety, and personality I had never thought possible.’ Fanfare (Mozart, 92268)
- Bach’s Goldberg Variations have gained iconic status, its popularity reaches well beyond the boundaries of traditional classical music audiences.
- The Goldberg Variations BWV988 takes its name from a young pupil of Bach, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who was in the service of Count von Keyserlingk. The Count was a notoriously bad sleeper, and requested of Bach a series of pieces for Goldberg to play to him when he could not sleep; he then considered the work to be ‘his’, although it is widely referred to by the name of its performer. The variations are in groups of three, with the last in each group being a canon and the final variation weaving together two popular song melodies into a quodlibet. The variations range in character, and feature fughettas, a French overture, ornamental slow arias as well as virtuosic pieces for two manuals.
- The Goldberg Variations present a cosmos of human emotions, ranging from serenity, devotion, joy, wit and brilliance to deep sorrow and darkness. A monument for Humanity and one of the greatest creation man ever made.
- in the dark period of lockdown Klára Würtz found inspiration and solace in working on Bach’s Goldberg Variations. She studied at the Liszt Ferenc Academy in Budapest, imbibing the rich musical culture and knowledge of such teachers as György Kurtág, Ferenc Rados, and Zoltán Kocsis. She toured the world, playing in such famous venues as Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink, France (Roque d’Anthéron), Germany, Italy, Salzburger Festspiele (Mozart recital) and Japan.