Bach: Goldberg Variations

Arundo Quartet
Supraphon SU 4261-2
+ Suite in C, BWV 1066

This is scarcely likely to be on the wishlist of readers of the EMR, but this arrangement of the Goldberg Variations by the bassoonist in this Prague-based wind quartet (oboe, clarinet, basset horn and bassoon) shows that you can do almost anything with Bach’s music and enjoy it, as these wind players certainly do. Also on this CD is his arrangement of the First Suite in C major (BWV 1066).

It must be tough being a clarinettist and having not a note of Bach to play – though I remember going to a Matthew Passion conducted by Vaughan Williams in the Dorking Halls in the early 1950s, and hearing clarinets play the oboe da caccia parts and the continuo realised on a grand piano! No wonder this quartet has two members of the clarinet family in it.

What surprised me on a casual listening was how dull and samey the overall sound was compared to the variety I have grown used to from an experienced harpsichord player with nuances of fingering, and some changes of registration.

David Stancliffe