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Bach for string trio? No transcribing required, you’d think: just crowd around the piano score and play what you see, surely?

Not so. Dmitry Sitkovetsky shows much skill in the choice of – for a start – tempo, dynamics, ornaments and articulation. His first stab at arranging the Goldbergs, much inspired by Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording, dated from 1984-5. Despite successful performances around the world, he then made some revisions. The revised (2009) version is the one here recorded, on modern instruments, at modern pitch, and with vibrato and occasional rallentandos: all fine by me, though purists may shudder. Continuo-less ensembles being unknown to Bach, the sound-world cannot be 100 per cent authentic, but the effortless lyricism of these three superb players is a model for pianists and pupils alike. Players familiar with the later variations will appreciate the turning of spectacular keyboard passagework into idiomatic string writing. The occasional pizzicatos are great fun, and the ghostly pp flautando with which Sitkovetsky recalls the Aria is magical.

By keeping tempos moving, and doing without most repeats, Sitkovetsky and friends find room on the disc for all 15 Sinfonias (or Three-Part Inventions). Speeds are nicely varied, and the whole set is reshuffl ed to form a satisfying key-sequence for listeners. Thoroughly enjoyable.

MICHAEL ROUND Read the full review on Agora Classica


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