The Art Of Transcription
Some 28 years ago, when violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky made a transcription of Bach's Goldberg Variations for string trio, it provoked some eyebrow-raising. After all, as the Azerbaijan-born violinist has pointed out, at that time transcriptions were perhaps less fashionable than they are today. More fundamentally, however, the concept of this particular transcription seemed a contradiction in terms: the Goldberg Variations is quintessentially a keyboard work, whether the variations are played on a succulent modern concert grand piano or on the harpsichord (which, to my mind, always revives Sir Thomas Beecham's wicked image of the sound of the harpsichord resembling the "two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof"). Anyway, Sitkovetsky's version gained currency and he has revisited and revised it, making it even more transparent, improving its fluidity by removing some repeats without loss of scale or structure. The new recording, with violist Yuri Zhislin and cellist Luigi Piovano, is spellbinding and beautifully persuasive.