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Irma Issakadze Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg-Variationen BWV 988 OC 628 2 SACD
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Format2 Super Audio CD
Ordering NumberOC 628
Release date04/07/2008
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Bach, Johann Sebastian

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      Irma Issakadze, was born in 1976 in Tiflis, Georgia, into a family of significant musicians. She debuted at the age of nine with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in a concert with the Georgian State Orchestra. At fourteen, she entered the class of Ludwig Hoffmann at the Academy of Theater and Music in Munich. She obtained her degree in concert piano with Vladimir Krainev at the Academy of Music in Hanover. Irma Issakadze has concertized in Spain, Italy, Germany, Georgia, France, Switzerland and the USA. The NDR broadcast one of her concerts with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Hanover of the NDR under Eiji Oue. With her recording of the Goldberg Variations, the young pianist demonstrates her compelling musical personality with an interpretation that is based on knowledge of the great achievements throughout the history of the interpretation of this central work and which likewise finds its own way between the great pianistic tradition and today’s historically informed performance practice. The CD, which was recorded, mixed and mastered in “real” DSD, without converting from PCM format, was made in the renowned mediaHYPERIUM Studio in California, produced using the highest level of recording technology available today.

      Existence: The cycle of life

      Irma Issakadze speaks with Marco Frei about Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations
      There are already a number of great interpretations of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on the market. How does this affect you as an interpreter, Ms. Issakadze?
      I follow my first inspiration when selecting works to play. If I feel like I have a special connection to a work, I already have many of my own ideas about it. Even when I hear other recordings of that piece, it doesn’t really influence me very much. I already have my own distinct image of it. It is interesting, of course, to hear other aspects, but when someone has their own approach, nothing can unsettle that. They have enough inner power to follow their own way.

      Glenn Gould made great recordings of the Goldberg Variations.
      Naturally, Gould’s performances inspired me. He is a pianist whom I admire greatly. His interpretations influenced and helped shape my own playing, but I finally moved away from him, metaphorically speaking, and no longer listened to his recordings as much. I have chosen a completely different line of interpretation.

      What do you think is the reason for this?
      I think it has to do with personality! He was a completely different person. His background has very little to do with me – which of course plays a role. When one compares our interpretations, mine has become something completely different – I find.

      I agree very much. What stands out to me is your rather free agogic within individual variations.
      I would describe my manner of playing as a type of improvisation, which explains the varying tempi you mention. Bach’s Goldberg Variations are like an organism to me. Their breathing changes – just like we humans react in various manners and fashions as well. I like to follow this breathing character – to follow the inner flow. This agogic freedom develops when a specific passage draws me in.

      What is your approach to the Goldberg Variations?
      I have a very intimate relationship with this work. One expression that occurs to me is that it is my “soulmate”. Like a person to whom you are very close. That’s how I feel about the Goldberg Variations. I have studied them intensively for over ten years – when I started, I was eighteen. For me, they are a constant and inexhaustible source of new perspectives and ideas.

      And those would be?
      The Goldberg Variations remind me of the “principium grande” of the early Enlightenment philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: “Nothing is without reason”. The work’s immense impact comes from this. At the beginning, we have simple, self-evident clarity, and then something develops that makes us begin to reflect, that captures us and that also stirs us up emotionally. There isn’t any emotion that isn’t in that work – joy, euphoria, sadness, pain, power or austerity. But it always has its own sense of inner quiet, it imparts inner peace.

      How does this express itself? It develops a feeling of infinity – as though everything is timeless. In my opinion, the variations do not strive to reach a goal, which also has to do with the form of the circle.

      You’re referring to how the beginning Aria returns at the end of work?
      Exactly. A circle, a cycle – also one of life. That is decisive, both in nature and in our lives – the circle plays a very big role. Seen in this light, the journey of the Aria to the Aria also symbolizes our life. But it is not really a return, because the point to which we return now has another significance than it did at the beginning. The listener or performer has changed, and the path one has taken shapes him or her. For me, all of this practically symbolizes existence itself.

      That is an entirely religious view, isn’t it?
      I am a very religious person, and of course, it is nothing new that Bach’s music is religious – his religiosity is ever-present. I explain this in any event with the special presence of religion and God. As a devout person, one could turn Leibniz’s statement “Nothing is without reason” around to “Nothing is without God”. My opinion is that this cycle and basic theme are at the bottom of many masterpieces – not only in music, but in other arts as well.

      Since when have you been so interested in Bach?
      I began playing Bach when I was six or seven. I started with the Well-Tempered Clavier. At that time, my father took the music away from me because he thought it was still too early for that (laughs). But when I was thirteen or fourteen, after we moved from Georgia to Germany, I again took up my work with Bach with great intensity.

      Why particularly then?
      That was the time I was freeing myself from many influences, artistic ones as well. I come from a well known family of Georgian musicians. Our move to Germany was a big help to me. The family was simply busy with day-today things – the move was a major change, as you can imagine. I studied independently for the first time when I came to Germany; before that, my parents had often taught me.

      Was it difficult for you, coming from such a prominent family of musicians?
      It can be difficult. To assert oneself, one must have a strong, individual artistic personality. In Germany, I could stand on my own two feet, alone – in the good sense of the word – which was very good for me. I then came to Ludwig Hoffmann, who explained a lot about Bach’s style to me. Later, I refused to let my family affect me too much. Of course, the influence of my family was positive and very important, but breaking free of that is extremely important – one must find one’s own way. And I believe that I have succeeded in this – above all through the help of my work with Bach.

      Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler

      Tracklist hide

      hide SACD 1
      • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
        Goldberg-Variationen BWV 988
        Aria mit 30 Veränderungen „IV. Teil der Clavier-Übung“
        • 1.Aria04:18
        • 2.Variation 101:38
        • 3.Variation 201:33
        • 4.Variation 302:16
        • 5.Variation 401:06
        • 6.Variation 501:17
        • 7.Variation 601:25
        • 8.Variation 702:26
        • 9.Variation 801:47
        • 10.Variation 901:35
        • 11.Variation 1001:46
        • 12.Variation 1102:14
        • 13.Variation 1202:18
        • 14.Variation 1305:52
        • 15.Variation 1402:01
        • 16.Variation 1505:51
      • Total:39:23
      more SACD 2
      • Total:42:36