Like any commodity, the less you have, the more precious it becomes.
Since the music critic's job at the Star went the way of VHS, I've had little time to listen -- I mean listen, not hear -- to music, making the moments when I can have both particularly precious.
Koren-born Canadian pianist Minsoo Sohn's new recording of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations has been one that I keep returning to and, with each listen since the CD arrived in late August, I come to appreciate some new facet of what he has done here.
There's been a mini rush of Goldberg recordings in the last half-decade and, each time I hear a new interpretation in concert or on disc, it comes with a fresh appreciation of Bach's craft, as well as the tremendous amount of thinking that the pianist has to do about how to make each of the 30 variations sound.
Some performers find an inner lyricism. Others treat the Variations as technical exercises broken by slower passages that allow the pianist to catch their breath during this 80-minute marathon.
The beauty in Sohn's performance comes from its underlying clear-headedness, blended with a very strong grasp of the playful nature of Baroque dance forms Bach inserts.
The music shimmers with playful light. Bach's contrapuntal textures are as clear and sparkling as a Swarowski store window. Sohn also refrains from imposing too much Romantic sweetness on the slow sections, making this a refreshing, enlightening and very welcome addition to my reference collection.
Check out the details as well as track samples in the Multimedia section of the Honens music competition website (Honens, as a gesture of confidence in its laureates, has been issuing Sohn's recordings).