Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 – Ji Liu (HD 1080p)

The Chinese concert pianist Ji Liu plays Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. Recorded in the Old Vic at the Bristol Proms, England, on July 29, 2014.

The "Goldberg Variations" is the last of a series of keyboard music Bach published under the title of Clavierόbung, and is often regarded as the most serious and ambitious composition ever written for harpsichord. Based on a single ground bass theme, the variations display not only Bach's exceptional knowledge of diverse styles of music of the day but also his exquisite performing techniques. Being also the largest of all clavier pieces published during the Baroque period, the work soars high above others in terms of its encyclopaedic character. From this, it is often considered that it sums up the entire history of Baroque variation, the "Diabelli Variations" by Beethoven being the Classical counterpart. However, doomed perhaps by its requirements of virtuoso techniques from a performer, it was not as popularly known as the "Well-Tempered Clavier", which was not even published during the composer's lifetime. Nonetheless, the work has long been regarded as the most important set of variations composed in the Baroque era: in 1774 Johann Philipp Kirnberger, one of Bach's pupils, referred to it as "the best variations", while in 1802 Johann Nicolaus Forkel, the author of the first ever biography of J. S. Bach, praised the work as the "model, according to which all variations should be made".

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (1741)

i. Aria

ii. Variatio 1 a 1 Clav
iii. Variatio 2 a 1 Clav
iv. Variatio 3 Canone all' Unisono a 1 Clav
v. Variatio 4 a 1 Clav
vi. Variatio 5 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav
vii. Variatio 6 Canone alla Seconda a 1 Clav
viii. Variatio 7 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav al tempo di Giga
ix. Variatio 8 a 2 Clav
x. Variatio 9 Canone alla Terza a 1 Clav
xi. Variatio 10 Fughetta a 1 Clav
xii. Variatio 11 a 2 Clav
xiii. Variatio 12 Canone alla Quarta a 1 Clav
xiv. Variatio 13 a 2 Clav
xv. Variatio 14 a 2 Clav
xvi. Variatio 15 Canone alla Quinta a 1 Clav
xvii. Variatio 16 Ouverture a 1 Clav
xviii. Variatio 17 a 2 Clav
xix. Variatio 18 Canone alla Sexta a 1 Clav
xx. Variatio 19 a 1 Clav
xxi. Variatio 20 a 2 Clav
xxii. Variatio 21 Canone alla Settima a 1 Clav
xxiii. Variatio 22 a 1 Clav
xxiv. Variatio 23 a 2 Clav
xxv. Variatio 24 Canone all' Ottava a 1 Clav
xxvi. Variatio 25 a 2 Clav
xxvii. Variatio 26 a 2 Clav
xxviii. Variatio 27 Canone alla Nona a 2 Clav
xxix. Variatio 28 a 2 Clav
xxx. Variatio 29 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav
xxxi. Variatio 30 Quodlibet a 1 Clav
xxxii. Aria da Capo e Fine

Ji Liu, piano

England, Bristol Proms, Old Vic Theatre, July 29, 2014

(HD 1080p)

The Chinese pianist, Ji Liu, was born in 1990 in China to a family with an interest in music, where his mother played guitar and his father played the trumpet, although his parents were not professional musicians. He started his early musical education at the age of 3. Whilst still only 13, he won an international competition to perform a recital at New York's famed Carnegie Hall. That concert proved to be a major turning point in his career. He initially studied piano and conducting at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, after which he studied under Dmitri Bashkirov at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid. In 2007, he was awarded a full scholarship to continue his Bachelor of Music focusing on Piano Performance with Prof. Christopher Elton and Composition with Ruth Byrchmore at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 2013, he graduated his Master of Music with both a Distinction and a DipRAM for his extraordinary Final Recital from the Royal Academy of Music.

Described as the "Wunderkind Pianist" by the Guardian and "A Major Talent" by, Ji Liu positions himself at the top of the record charts and delight audiences around the world. In 2014 when he was 23, his debut album, "Piano Reflections" produced by Grammy-winning producer Andrew Cornall and released by Classic FM/Universal Music, immediately topped No.1 and stormed the UK charts since its release, making him the UK's biggest-selling classical breakthrough artist of 2014. The album was also nominated as the "best classical album of year" at the prestigious Chinese Music Award in 2015. Liu has then released another two chart-topping albums, "Piano Encores" and "Pure Chopin" in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

As a soloist, Ji Liu has appeared at major venues and festivals internationally including London's Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre, St John's Smith Square and etc; the St George's Hall and the new Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool; Birmingham's Town Hall, Sage Gateshead in Newcastle; Old Vic Theatre and Colston Hall in Bristol; Royal Concert hall in Nottingham; Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; Auditorium du Louvre and Salle Cortot in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, Rachmaninov Hall at Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Théâtre de Champ Fleuri in La Réunion; Shanghai Oriental Art Centre, Shanghai Concert Hall and the Grand Theatre in Shanghai; Suzhou Culture and Arts Center; Kumho Arts Hall in Seoul; the Henley Festival in the UK; the Stavanger Chamber Music Festival in Norway, Verbier Festival and Gstaad Festival in Switzerland, Tongyeong International Music Festival in South Korea; The 3rd Krasnoyarsk International Music Festival of the Asia-Pacific region in Russia and etc.

Ji Liu has played Schumann and Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Dorking Halls and the Royal Festival Hall in London; and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 with Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic at the sold-out Royal Albert Hall. Ji Liu was also the soloist who opened the 2015-2016 season for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and its new Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Last season saw Ji Liu's warm welcome-back to the Royal Albert Hall performing his concerto debut with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; to the Royal Festival Hall playing Mozart Piano Concerto K.467 with the Mozart Festival Orchestra.

As a hugely creative artist, Ji Liu has a rare and immense capability of playing music from Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations to Ligeti Piano Etudes to his own transcription of Skyfall. His piano playing always embraces distinctive quality of devotion, originality, purity and authenticity. Ji Liu's passion for new music has led him collaborating with some of the greatest composers of our time. In 2016, he played the World Premiere of Ludovico Einaudi's new piano concerto with Maestro Damian Iorio and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

In his spare time, Ji Liu is enthusiastic about fashion, fine watches and visual arts. He likes sharp suits and unique shoes. He believes that classical music is for everyone, and one of his dreams is to make classical music more accessible and popular to a much wider audience.


More photos

See also

Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 – Evgeni Koroliov (Bachfest Leipzig 2008)

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, BWV 846-869 – András Schiff

Johann Sebastian Bach: St John Passion, BWV 245 – Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Brook, Sophie Bevan, Tim Mead, Andrew Tortise, Konstantin Wolff, Robert Davies – Dunedin Consort, John Butt

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 – Angela Hewitt (Download 44kHz/24bit & 44.1kHz/16bit)

Johann Sebastian Bach: 6 Suites for Cello Solo, BWV 1007-1012 – István Várdai (Audio video)

Rémi Geniet plays Johann Sebastian Bach (Download 96kHz/24bit)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Concertos Italiens – Alexandre Tharaud (Audio video)

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