Bach: Goldberg Variations

Reviewed on Mon 18 Jun, 2018

As the diversion from insomnia for which they were originally intended, Hill’s Goldbergs move with bewitching nimbleness between sedative introspection.

Those familiar with Peter Hill’s accounts of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and French Suites on Delphian will need no encouragement to explore his Goldberg Variations. Measured, meticulous and mellifluous, they share a similar, albeit darker grained, eloquence. On a Steinway Model D (beautifully recorded and engineered by Paul Baxter) in Cardiff’s University Concert Hall, there’s a becoming bloom to Hill’s fresh and quietly vivacious playing. Some will find his alertness to constant shifts of mood, emphasis and contrast a touch overly deliberate, but there is becoming rhyme to his reason. As the diversion from insomnia for which they were originally intended, Hill’s Goldbergs move with bewitching nimbleness between sedative introspection (the bookended Arias cosseted by luminously suspended notes) and a cornucopia of lyrical, crisply delineated distractions from oscitancy. Rich in tonal shading, colour and controlled effervescence, it’s a performance that refuses conventional somnambulant leanings to wholly engaging effect, with Hill’s booklet notes exemplary and illuminating.
–Michael Quinn