Nick triumphs at the Deutschlandsberg Festival – Goldberg Variations Review

Genius without vanity…Nick van Bloss, an English genius with a highly individual artistic career that was interrupted for 15 years by TS, performed Bach’s Goldberg Variations in Deutschlandsberg. His brilliant but humble interpretation, characterized by an inner clarity, ensured that this concert was one of the highlights of the ‘piano spring’.

In Nick van Bloss’ hands, even the most outlandish virtuoso passages, reminiscent of Glenn Gould’s excesses, were true to the incorruptible and higher reason of Bach’s music. Yes, the pianist took a creative approach to each variation, so that motifs literally leaped out at the enthralled listener, but, with Nick van Bloss refraining from indulgence in eccentric contrasts, a transcendent authority shone from these technically meticulous character studies. Even the swift tempi in Variations 15 and 25 were not compromised by sentimentality, and despite endlessly rich modulations, the whole piece never indulged in dynamic exaggeration.

The controlled sound, moreover, was achieved with hardly any use of the pedal. Sometimes there was a breathlessness in the way the pianist approached the next tempo, and there was an inexorable forward thrust in the first group of fast Variations (nos. 10 to 12). In the minor-key Variation No 25, van Bloss created a whole world, where he revealed harmonic treasures with demonic insistence. The performance continued on its wispish and joyful path to climax in the festive but austere conclusion of the Quodlibet. The unadorned repetition of the Aria was like a return to Paradise. (M. Wagner) Kronenzeitung Steiermark.


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