"With this 87-minute recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, French harpsichordist, organist and pedagogue Jean-Luc Ho delivers one of the most interesting and perhaps idiosyncratic interpretations of this unique work, which has been experiencing a veritable resurgence in recent years." Rémy Franck - Pizzicato
"There are many high points, here are just a few. There’s a reassuring confidence to Var. 4. Var. 14 and Var. 29 display great technical command. I’m particularly enamoured by the relaxed serenity of Var. 15, whilst the following variation presents an elegantly paced French Overture. The trills of Var. 28 have an attractive bell-like quality. Var. 25, known as the ‘Black Pearl’ comes across as heartfelt and sincere, and there’s a determined feeling of joy in Var. 30 as one reaches the final destination. When the aria is reprised at the end, there’s an overwhelming sense of inevitability.
I found Ho’s performance of the Goldberg Variations very rewarding. He invests the music with real character and personality. It’s a beautifully sounding instrument and has been captured in first class sound." Stephen Greenbank - MusicWeb international
"Jean-Luc Ho e le Variazioni Goldberg, un programma che fa – è il caso di dirlo – drizzare le orecchie – ed un cd che si riceve (si accoglie) con avida curiosità. E la prima reazione, di banale stupore, è che di cd ce ne sono due. L’idea che le Variazioni Goldberg, questo magico continuum, vertiginosa ascensione di una montagna dai molteplici versanti, incredibile svilupparsi di una narrazione che sembra, nel suo evolvere, trasformare l’interprete (e chi le ascolta, al tempo stesso) sino al ripetersi, alla fine, dell’Aria iniziale che ci riconduce, ohimè, su terra, l’idea, dicevo, che le Variazioni possano essere tagliate in due non riusciva ad entrarmi nella testa." Ferruccio Nuzzo - GreyPanthers
“Although it is certainly part of a performer’s task both to nurture a special relationship with a work and to give the public a chance to enjoy it, the first thing that you need to do is to separate the work from its history.
Bach was fifty-five in 1741, when he published the work described as a Clavier-Übung made up of an ARIA with a number of variations for a harpsichord with two manuals.
There is no point trying to find anything English in the English Suites and, in the same way, calling the work the Goldberg Variations implicitly has the effect of making us wonder whether a fourteen-year-old by the name of Johann Gottfried Goldberg would have been capable of playing such a difficult score. The name given to the work pinpointed just how technically difficult it is (and it really is, although that does not define the piece) and played a part in making it what it always seemed destined to become: a legendary, mythical, almost unreal piece of music.
In concert, the Variations are something that should be watched as well as listened to. The work requires invention from the performer’s fingers and incessant virtuosity in the exploration of the keyboards; it is a challenge for both pianists and harpsichordists as well as a treat for the audience. This was the first time that Bach used these hand-crossing techniques, hammered chords, chromatic slides and rapid arpeggios in such an assertive - almost extreme - way on the harpsichord, and here he explores the independence of the manuals as never before.
You need quite some harpsichord to perform a piece of this kind - an old companion which gives you a hunger for playing them and then feeds you as you do. Ten years ago, I began racking my brains, wondering how I might go about finding “the” harpsichord for Bach. To cut a long story short, while I did come across the qualities I needed - balance, dynamics and tonal structure - I never seemed to find them all together in one instrument.
The harpsichord with which I am most familiar is a two-manual French harpsichord in the Goujon style, made by the harpsichord maker Émile Jobin in 1983. It is in a French style and, although Bach never heard or touched an instrument of this kind, it is the work of a modern harpsichord maker who kept the organ and the desire for polyphony in mind - rather an unusual sort of Frenchman, you might say.”