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Goldberg Variations


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988:
  - I. Aria.
  - II. Variation No. 1.
  - III. Variation No. 2.
  - IV. Variation No. 3.
  - V. Variation No. 4.
  - VI. Variation No. 5.
  - VII. Variation No. 6.
  - VIII. Variation No. 7.
  - IX. Variation No. 8.
  - X. Variation No. 9.
  - XI. Variation No. 10.
  - XII. Variation No. 11.
  - XIII. Variation No. 12.
  - XIV. Variation No. 13.
  - XV. Variation No. 14.
  - XVI. Variation No. 15.
  - XVII. Variation No. 16.
  - XVIII. Variation No. 17.
  - XIX. Variation No. 18.
  - XX. Variation No. 19.
  - XXI. Variation No. 20.
  - XXII. Variation No. 21.
  - XXIII. Variation No. 22.
  - XXIV. Variation No. 23.
  - XXV. Variation No. 24.
  - XXVI. Variation No. 25.
  - XXVII. Variation No. 26.
  - XXVIII. Variation No. 27.
  - XXIX. Variation No. 28.
  - XXX. Variation No. 29.
  - XXXI. Variation No. 30.
  - XXXII. Aria da capo.

Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639.
Nun komm, Der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659.

William Wolfram, piano.

Musicstry Studios. TRT® sound (calibration 2.4b). Recorded: September 9, 10 2017. Released: January 23 2020. Photo: Steve Sherman. Liner notes: William Wolfram. Producer: Mario Martínez. PC17008 ℗ & © 2021 Play Classics.

Program notes

The Goldberg Variations were written to be played on the Harpsichord in 1741. I have attempted first and foremost to present these Variations as a performance, and not as an historical document. Consistent with that approach, I have aimed to employ tempi that will allow the differentiation of Variations to the maximum degree, and I have sometimes used phrasings that differ from the norm. At times, I have also invented ornaments for fun.

I consider the closing Aria as an "auf weidersehen" and as such, I play it in a simpler manner, reducing the amount of ornaments that were played in the opening Aria. I play some variations with no pedal, some with short dabs of pedal, and others with considerable pedal. In a few instances, I have also lowered bass octaves to provide greater power.

I understand the arguments for historical authenticity, but also feel that the minute one chooses to play this work on a modern instrument then the authenticity ship has already sailed. In fact, when one chooses to even record this work...hasn't the ship sailed again? I believe that authenticity can be best served by attempting to bring a work to life, from the page to the listener's ear.

William Wolfram

William Wolfram

American pianist William Wolfram was a silver medalist at both the William Kapell and the Naumburg International Piano Competitions and a bronze medalist at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow.

Wolfram has appeared with many of the greatest orchestras of the world and has developed a special reputation as the rare concerto soloist who is also equally versatile and adept as a recitalist, accompanist and chamber musician. In all of these genres, he is highly sought after for his special focus on the music of Franz Liszt and Beethoven and is a special champion for the music of modernist 20th century American composers.

His concerto debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony under the baton of Leonard Slatkin was the first in a long succession of appearances and career relationships with numerous American conductors and orchestras. He has also appeared with the San Francisco, Saint Louis, Indianapolis, Seattle and New Jersey symphonies, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington D.C.), the Baltimore Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Nashville Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Edmonton Symphony, the Columbus Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, and the Grand Teton and San Luis Obispo Mozart festival orchestras, among many others. He enjoys regular and ongoing close associations with the Dallas Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra as well as the musicians of the New York Philharmonic for chamber concerts in the United States.

Internationally recognized conductors with whom he has worked include Osmo Vanska, Andrew Litton, Jerzy Semkow, Mark Wigglesworth, Jeffrey Tate, Vladimir Spivakov, Michael Christie, Gerard Schwarz, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Jeffrey Kahane, James Judd, Roberto Minczuk, Stefan Sanderling, JoAnn Falletta, James Paul, Carlos Kalmar, Hans Vonk, Joseph Silverstein, Jens Nygaard, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Vasily Petrenko.

Abroad, Wolfram has appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra of London, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the RTE Symphony Orchestra of Ireland (Dublin), the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Bergen Philharmonic (Norway), the Beethovenhalle Orchestra Bonn, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and many others.

An enthusiastic supporter of new music, he has collaborated with and performed music by composers such as Aaron Jay Kernis, Kenneth Frazelle, Marc Andre Dalbavie, Kenji Bunch, and Paul Chihara. His world premiere performance of the Chihara re-orchestration of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, with the Milwaukee Symphony under the baton of Andreas Delfs, was met with great critical attention and acclaim.

Other highlights include several chamber music collaborations, including recitals and recordings with Oscar Shumsky, recitals with Harvey Shapiro and numerous collaborations with Leonard Rose. He also performed Richard Strauss’s setting of the Tennyson poem Enoch Arden with the Oscar-winning actress Louise Rainer, and with actor Jeff Steitzer.

Wolfram has also performed as a guest artist with prominent ballet companies including ABT, Pittsburgh Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Carolina Ballet and Boston Ballet, working with noted choreographers including Jiri Kylian, Edward Villella, Robert Weiss, and Agnes De Mille.

Wolfram has extensive experience in the recording studio. He has recorded four titles on the Naxos label in his series of Franz Liszt Opera Transcriptions and two other chamber music titles for Naxos with violinist Philippe Quint (music of Miklos Rosza and John Corigliano). Also for Naxos he has recorded the music of Earl Kim with piano and orchestra - the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland behind him. For the Albany label, he recorded the piano concertos of Edward Collins with Marin Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

As educator and teacher, Mr. Wolfram is a long-standing member of the piano faculty of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, and a regular featured guest at the Colorado College Music Festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also teaches a performance class at the acclaimed Manhattan School of Music.

In print and other media Wolfram was the focus of a full chapter in Joseph Horowitz's book, The Ivory Trade: Music and the Business of Music at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. On television, he was a featured pianist in the documentary of the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition.

A graduate of the Juilliard School, William Wolfram resides in New York City with his wife and two daughters and is a Yamaha artist.

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