Goldberg Variations - Aria





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Uploaded on Oct 8, 2010

Played by Tatiana Nikolayeva.

ClassicsForTheAges brings you another lost performance! Many performers are said to have a certain level of 'friendship' with composers whose pieces they're particularly good at; Artur Rubinstein was said to have an affinity for Chopin, for instance, and the Alban Berg Quartet had a 'proper' approach to Schubert. But how many can say they were actually close friends with a composer?

Tatiana Nikolayeva, a Soviet pianist, had the good fortune of meeting Dmitri Shostakovich after winning the 1950 Bach Leipzig Piano Competition, part of the bicentennial marking Bach's death. Shostakovich evidently saw something magnificent in her playing; he allowed her to debut his 24 Preludes and Fugues.

Nikolayeva was also well-known for her creative interpretations of Bach. She recorded the Goldberg Variations five times on different labels; this recording, released in 1970 under the "Relief" label, was the first and, in this fan's humble opinion, arguably the best. Comparing this cycle to Murray Perahia's, I couldn't help but notice how much effort Nikolayeva puts into making each variation unique. Perahia's, while technically superior, have a certain 'sameness'.

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