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Burkard Schliessmann (Piano)
Reviews of his recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988

International Record Review

There's nothing traditional here, nothing middle-of-the road. Instead, we get meticulous explorations of the music that aim to reveal its details of colour, texture and motivic shape, rather than to unleash the affective force of its special amalgam of elegance and fire, thoughtful exposure of the music's inner workings.
(Peter J. Rabinowitz)

WDR-Cologne, 'TonArt' - september 2, 2008

Was ist diese Musik? Ist sie Gottesdienst? Eine Beschwörung, eine Meditation über eine Ordnung von Gott, Mensch und Welt? Ist sie eine permutatorische Rechenaufgabe? Ein arithmetisches Exerzitium der Seele?

Ernst und feierlich schaut der Pianist Burkard Schliessmann in die Kamera, der Arm ruht mit ausgestrecktem kleinem Finger auf der Tastatur seines Steinway-Flügels – so ist Schliessmann auf dem Cover seiner neuen CD, der Einspielung der Goldbergvariationen von Bach, zu sehen. Und so konzentriert, wie er sich dem Betrachter visuell präsentiert, erklingt auch eins der bedeutendsten Klavierwerke der Musikgeschichte in feiner, ziselierter, grundsolider Interpretation.
...

... Er hat sich schon früh mit Bach auseinandergesetzt. Bereits mit 21 Jahren spielte Schliessmann das gesamte Orgelwerk. Seine CD- und DVD-Produktionen sind besonders in den USA bekannt und bewundert. Er hat einige der Achttausender der Klavierliteratur eingespielt, Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Skrabin, Godowsky, auch in Fernsehproduktionen des WDR.
...

Der Anekdote nach sollen Bachs Goldbergvariationen als „Gute-Nacht-Musik“ gedacht worden sein. Bach hat sie ursprünglich lapidar mit „Clavier-Übung“ betitelt. Sie zählen – hinsichtlich ihrer Struktur und ihrer bestechenden Klarheit - zu den anspruchsvollsten Werken für Klavier. Burkard Schliessmann gestaltet sie rein und durchsichtig, virtuos und souverän ohne virtuose Kapriolen, in einem durchdringend filigranem Ton.
...

Schliessmann spielt auf seinem eigenen Flügel, den er als Instrument für die Musik Bachs empfindet und darstellt. Sein Ziel ist die Erreichung einer „humanen Wirklichkeit“ der Musik. Ein großes Vorhaben angesichts der Abstraktheit der Struktur der Variationen. Jedoch gewinnt man tatsächlich beim Hören dieser CD den Eindruck, man sei Teil und Inhalt dieser Harmonien und verzwickten Kontrapunkte: Die Musik sei eine kommunizierende, menschliche Reinkarnation. Schliessmanns „Instinkt“ wird untermauert durch seinen zuweilen recht grundtönig klingenden Steinway, verbunden mit dem großen musikalischen Verständnis des Werkes und seiner Entstehungszeit, welches Schliessmann sich unüberhörbar angeeignet hat.
...

Was ist diese Musik: Ist sie Gottesdienst? Eine Meditation über eine Ordnung von Gott, Mensch, Welt? Eine permutatorische Rechenaufgabe? Ein arithmetisches Exerzitium der Seele? Oder all dies zusammen?
...
(Dr. Lothar Mattner)

STEINWAY Pianos Magazine

People like to pigeon-hole pianists. There are, we are routinely told, the barnstormers – romantic pianists who throw the entire force of the heart and soul into their playing – and then there is the more analytical school – those who play by intellect, everything meticulously thought out and delicately weighted. By and large it’s piffle, of course; few pianists would admit to excluding head or heart in their playing and great interpretations are forged through a combination of the two, and more besides. But German-born Burkard Schliessmann rejects such divisions more than most. (...)
(James Inverne)

Fono Forum - August 2008

Fein
Ein "Bach der Mitte" im positiven Sinn - nachdenklich schlicht, stets fein ausgearbeitet.
(Frank Siebert)

MusicWeb-International - May 27, 2008

"Recording of the Month"
No other Goldberg, for better or worse, is more full of personal, human touches than this one. Some would call it a romantic approach, but I’m not convinced that is true. I think that the true romantic approach is Perahia’s. For all Perahia’s lucid, Mozartian poise, he shapes the entire work with a dramatic, programmatic sense. Schliessmann instead lives inside each variation, more interested in each section’s inner life than in pushing the whole piece toward a climactic point.

Though Schliessmann is often identified with romantic piano music, he’s no romantic. He’s onto something new, an artistic “ism” that hasn’t been named yet. If score literalism can be taken at this point as a very twentieth-century phenomenon, it seems that a new artistic philosophy is emerging in the twenty-first.
(Mark Sebastian Jordan)

American Record Guide - May/June 2008

"Listening to Burkard Schliessmann's Goldberg Variations is a little like eating tuna tartare for the first time after years of eating fish sticks. It's not that Schliessmann plays the piece better than anyone else. Glenn Gould's second recording on Sony (Mar/Apr 2004) and Murray Perahia's reading for the same label (Jan/Feb 2001) are both wonderful, too. But Schliessmann's performance is very, very different and, in a way, more exalted than either of his esteemed colleagues. First, he takes every repeat and often chooses more expansive tempos for the pieces. As a result, the dramatic arc of the Goldbergs has more definition and significance; I'm now convinced that it's absolutely essential to play this piece with all the repeats. Second, Schliessmann is a little freer with tempo than I'm used to. Maybe sometimes he's a little too free, for example when he rushes the downbeat after a trill in Variation 14; still, the phrasing and expression become more varied, more human, than in performances with a stricter beat. And finally the sound of the piano is gorgeous: it's not percussive at all; it's warm and inviting. (I imagine it sounds even better in an SACD player.)

Of many outstanding variations I could mention, I remember in particular the elegant, French-style gigue tempo he takes for Variation 7, the extremely vocal Variation 9, the fascinating subtlety of voicing in Variation 8, the uncomplicated joy in Variation 24, and the understated, con amore Variation 30 (the quodlibet). ... Schliessmann's overall conception and realization of Bach's last great keyboard work has so much distinction ..."
(Rob Haskins)

all music - March 2008

"The much talked-about German pianist Burkard Schliessmann, after several recordings of Romantic literature, now weighs in with Bach‘s mighty Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, taken with all repeats and just deliberately enough that it requires two compact discs to contain the whole. Schliessmann in his Germanically abstruse yet pertinent booklet notes, quotes Glenn Gould several times and has seemingly set out to pick up with the variations where Gould left off. That's a tall order inasmuch as Gould’s Goldberg recordings, whether you like them or not, derive their value from their ability to transport the listener into Gould‘s personal universe — there is no Gould school, and for good reason. Schliessmann's interpretation certainly resembles Gould‘s in its externals: in the use of the pedals, in the heavy connectedness of the sharply articulated passagework, and in the radically pianistic conception of the work as a whole. He keeps closer to the 1955 Gould recording than to the later one with its tempo extremes, but he has some of the sense of titanic engagement with the work's architecture that the aging Gould had; the music seems to inexorably build over units stretching over several variations and several groups of variations. In any event, Schliessmann's performance is not in any way imitative of either of Gould‘s — although it's something of an inversion of the first one. Where Gould focuses on the melody (and hums along with it, which Schliessmann thankfully manages to avoid), it is the bass line that occupies Schliessmann's attention. He puts enough emphasis on the bass that in many variations it's the first thing that catches your attention — the melody line takes on the status of ornamentation. This, as both Gould and Schliessmann point out, accords with the basic conception of the work — Bach treats the bass line of the opening Aria as a ground, rather than making (to use an old wo) divisions on the tune. Schliessmann conveys the sense of a tough sinew connecting the whole giant set, and leaves himself enough room for plenty of small and often delightful surprises in the right hand. (...) If Gould’s sparkling renditions had a certain remoteness, Schliessmann seems positively Olympian. And, as much as any pianist since Gould, he is quite simply adding things to the music that Bach could not have imagined. This is (...) an ambitious and really spectacular recording of a keyboard masterwork that demands to be heard and can back up its demands. The multichannel Super Audio sound from Germany's Bayer label does full justice to the remarkable level of registral detail in Schliessmann's recording."
(James Manheim)

American Record Guide - March/April 2008

"... you come away from each variation (BACH: Goldberg- Variations) thinking "of course, that's the way it should be."

"... he displays the intellect and control of Gould without his eccentricities or vocal embellishments."

"... the sound of the SACD - recording of Schliessmann is as perfect as it gets these days."
(James Harrington)

Frankfurter Neue Presse - 4.1.2008

Der CD-Tipp: Goldberg für 2008
„Musik, die weder Ende noch Anfang achtet, Musik ohne wirklichen Höhepunkt und ohne wirkliche Auflösung“ – so beschrieb der geniale Glenn Gould Johann Sebastian Bachs „Goldberg-Variationen“. Der in Deutschland und den USA lebende Pianist Burkard Schliessmann scheint diese Einschätzung Goulds über einen der gewichtigsten Meilensteine der Klavierliteratur zu teilen. Seine Einspielung des hochkomplexen Variationswerks auf einer Doppel-CD im Super-Audio-Verfahren jedenfalls öffnet den ganzen Kosmos des Bachschen Spätstils. Mit der perlenden Klarheit und der Flexibilität seines subtil-kultivierten Anschlags gelingt Schliessmann eine Gratwanderung zwischen fließender Leichtigkeit und Ausdruckstiefe. Wie er dieses Netzwerk aus melodischen Linien und harmonischen Wendungen über einem festen Bassfundament emotionell und intellektuell durchdringt, wie er die Energiequellen dieser Musik immer wieder anzuzapfen versteht, verdient große Bewunderung."
(Michael Dellith)

FANFARE Magazin - January/February 2008

"Most of Burkard Schliessman’s interpretation of the Goldberg Variations calls to mind Alexander Pope’s line “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” — a reference not to ignorance (nor to the memory erasing at the center of the movie by that title), but to innocence. For the most part, Schliessmann presents this as music of optimism and joy, the exact opposite of much of Simone Dinnerstein’s recording, reviewed in the previous issue. Oh, Schliessmann does know when and how to get serious, as in the extended (though not distended) traversal of the 25th variation (discussed in the accompanying interview). Yet even here, the playing is not self-consciously weighty; he doesn’t try to make Bach sound like Beethoven.

Schliessmann sets a measured pace in the Aria, feeling his way through little hesitations that create the impression that he’s improvising the music as he plays. But his overall approach is much sunnier, thanks mainly to his almost bouncy non-legato touch. Consider the seventh variation, which is remarkably playful, even a bit rustic.

If you want something more in the tradition of Glenn Gould’s first recording, minus some of the peculiarities but plus the repeats, Schliessmann’s account is highly satisfactory."
(James Reel)

 

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Last update: ýOctober 16, 2008 ý18:04:48