Carlos Maria Solare attends Blackmore’s in Berlin on 13 August 2022 for the performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations
An off-centre outfit that describes itself as ‘Berlin’s music room’, Blackmore’s certainly is an address worth watching. It’s run by violinist Dylan Blackmore and former Berlin Philharmonic violist Wilfried Strehle, and they regularly hold masterclasses and chamber music concerts that might qualify as Berlin’s best-kept musical secret. The cosy location was fully packed for a summery performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as arranged for string trio by Dmitry Sitkovetsky. Joining the arranger himself were two Berlin-based musicians: the Deutsche Oper Berlin’s principal viola Andrei Gridchuk and former Hochschule für Musik cello professor David Geringas.
Sitkovetsky’s transcription was made almost 40 years ago, but he has kept revisiting and revising it over two recordings and countless concert performances. Having played the piece myself, at the concert under review I noticed several small differences from the printed parts. Afterwards, Sitkovetsky told me that he still considers his arrangement a work in progress! The violinist played Bach’s intricate embellishments with the greatest spontaneity and agogic freedom, leading on his colleagues unwaveringly and by the slightest means – sometimes a raised eyebrow was all that was needed.
Spiccato was unanimously employed in ever-changing degrees of sharpness – a reminder that the transcription was inspired by Glenn Gould’s playing. As melodic lines passed seamlessly from one instrument to the next, the individual timbres of Sitkovetsky’s Strad, Gridchuk’s Testore and Geringas’s Guadagnini came to the fore. The hour-long concert seemed to be over in no time; of course, there were no encores, but I for one wouldn’t have minded if they had started all over again!
CARLOS MARÍA SOLARE
Photo: Robert Carus