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CD Review

Robin Holloway

Gilded Goldbergs for two pianos Op. 86

Jennifer Micallef & Glenn Inanga, pianos
Hyperion CDA67360 98m DDD
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I became aware of Holloway's massive Gilded Goldbergs through hearing a Suite (1997) of eight of its variations, released on Dunelm DRD0243. The whole work takes more than an hour and a half, and it really is a Goldbergs for the 21st Century!

There are numerous recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations in the catalogues but this is completely different. Hyperion has kindly supplied it for review and it has quickly become one of the most captivating and invigorating duo-piano CDs in my collection. It is a wonderfully interesting recording, supported by a fascinating and candid account by Bach's most recent 're-composer' of his great masterpiece from its humble beginnings, which expanded over many years and grew into a major new work in its own right. Robin Holloway has gently and affectionately re-composed the work for two pianos, with many harmonic liberties, but never taking you too far away from the theme, so that you don't lose your bearings. Holloway is infinitely inventive - bringing many a smile to those of us who know the original well and have struggled to play it.

The Micallef-Inanga Duo is highly professional and their recording of Robin Holloway's recomposition exemplifies the 'binding chemistry' and exceptional 'ensemble, sensitivity elan and musical intelligence' as is claimed for these young pianists in the liner notes. I hope readers will consider Gilded Goldbergs for their own pleasure and to help Hyperion a little in their hour of need, the company having recently incurred enormous costs over a failed appeal over a copyrights claim by the editor of one of its early music releases! This has huge implications for future recordings of early music which need performing editions before they can reach the studio.

Copyright © 2005, Peter Grahame Woolf