Goldberg Variations - Matthew Halls - The Scotsman

Sir Thomas Beecham famously described the sound of the harpsichord as similar to "two skeletons copulating on a tin roof". Such allusions are a thing of the past, thanks to the quality of instruments now available and players to play them. In this sizeable package of Bach variation sets, Matthew Halls reveals a fresh and forceful talent that combines needle-sharp precision, stylistic awareness and suitably restrained flamboyance. The main work is the monumental Goldberg Variations, presented with thrilling affirmation and crystalline clarity, and - despite being split over the two CDs - rolled out as an inexorable stream of thought. As an appetiser, Hall applies similar authority to the Sarabande con Partite BWV990 (not fully authenticated as Bach's) and ends with the Italian-styled Aria Variata BWV989. Genuine musicality informs every bar of every variation in every one of these performances.

The Scotsman
23 February 2010