Cameron Roberts (piano)
Goldberg Variations (Bach)
Cameron Roberts (piano)
MOVE MCD 309
reviewed by Neville Cohn
MCD404 is one of the most satisfying recordings I’ve heard in some time. It brims with good things.
All the transcriptions on this CD are by Cameron Roberts himself. Certainly, he shapes to the demands of whatever he plays like fine wine to a goblet. His taste is impeccable, his physical command of the piano is remarkable. Refinement of style informs every moment of this recording.
Vivaldi’s Summer from The Four Seasons is a high point of this collection with Roberts working wonders with this much loved work. Magically silvery tone in the high treble informs the second movement which is transcribed and played with such artistry as to assume an identity that is quite unique and able to stand proudly in its own right. At its most extrovert, the playing has a Lisztian grandeur.
Roberts’ version of Rachmaninov’s song How Beautiful it is Here! is given marvellously lyrical treatment, each note clothed in gorgeous cantabile tone. The same composer’s The Morn of Life, Sleep is a model of introspection.
Is there a more hackneyed work in the American canon than Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue? Here, though, Roberts demonstrates a mastery of style and an heroic physical command of the instrument which, at climaxes, generates massive waves of noble sound. Bravo!
The Largo ma no tanto from Bach’s Concerto for two violins is another gem which leaves little doubt that Roberts is a born Bach interpreter; this offering cannot be faulted.
Tchaikowsky’s 1812 overture runs for more than a quarter hour – and every moment of it makes for thrilling listening.
This compilation is a stunningly fine example of the transcriber’s art.
ROBERTS is in Olympian form in Bach’s Goldberg Variations which comes across as a chaplet of near-faultlessly fashioned pianistic gems. Variation 8, for instance, has a delightfully spiky, buoyant quality, Variation 10 is memorable for its emphatic rhythms – and there’s a wondrous clarity and control in Variation 11. Variation 12 is in the best sense danceable – and the bold, abruptly peremptory quality of Variation 16 could hardly have been bettered. A dainty, graceful account of Variation 17 makes for sheerly beautiful listening – and the intricate delicacy of Roberts playing in the20th variation calls finest Brussels lace to mind.
There’s no lack of virtuosity when called for: Variation 23 is given refreshingly forthright treatment – and Variation 23 is informed by fantastic agility and precision. Variation 30, though, calls for a more paean-like quality.
A bonus takes the form of three transcriptions of Bach originals: Aus liebe from the St Matthew Passion comes across as an essay in achingly poignant terms – and the darkly bodeful despair that is the essence of Es ist Vollbracht from the St John Passion is as much an instance of the transcribers art at its highest as it is a profoundly probing interpretation.