Bach’s Goldberg Variations have played a central role in harpsichordist Pierre Hantai’s musical life since his early youth. At 28 he recorded the work for the Opus 111 label (now available on Naïve), a highly acclaimed release that stands among the work’s choice versions. Over the past 11 years Hantai evidently has rethought and refined his interpretation, as revealed in this 2003 remake. There’s greater rhythmic freedom and variety of articulation, plus a more subjective approach to ornaments and agogics, especially in the repeats (he observes all but those in Variation 15, 25, and the Aria Da Capo; the 1992 recording honors all repeats save for Variation 25). Variations previously characterized through Hantai’s seamless legato technique (Nos. 3, 6, 8, 11, 17, and 18, for example) are further enlivened by detaché finger strokes and more inflected phrasings. The latter infuse Variations 7, 10, and 16 with greater resilience and rhythmic verve than their earlier counterparts.
The long awaited follow-up to Borah Bergman’s critically acclaimed solo recording Meditations for Piano takes his lyrical cross hands contrapuntal technique into the dynamic context of the classic piano trio. Rich and soulful, this is Borah at his most thoughtful, supported by a fabulous rhythm section and performing music very close to his heart. Influenced by the exotic melismas of cantorial singing, the counterpoint of Bach and the harmonic beauty of Alban Berg and Bill Evans, Borah forges a new language of joy and sadness, firmly rooted in the Jewish tradition. John Zorn guests on one track.