One of the most respected recitalists of the day, Richard Goode turned to solo and concerto performances late in life. He had made a reputation for himself more as a chamber musician, with frequent participation at the Spoleto Festival and as a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Goode's musical genealogy is exceptional. Born on June 1, 1943, he grew up in the East Bronx, in a family that could be described as "semi-musical": his father was a piano tuner and an amateur violinist who hoped his son would take up the same instrument. He sent his son to a neighborhood piano teacher, believing that the keyboard instrument would give the boy the solid musical grounding he would need. When it became evident that the piano was where Richard's talents lay, his father sent him to study with Elvira Szigeti, aunt of the great Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti. Through his association with Elvira Szigeti, Goode came to the attention of arts patron Rosalie Leventritt, who arranged an audition for the 10-year-old with Rudolf Serkin. Serkin was impressed, and recommended him to Claude Frank. Subsequently Goode went on to study with Nadia Reisenberg, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and Serkin himself, who reigned at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Goode's repertoire is anchored in the middle-European classics, and like Artur Schnabel, with whom he has often been favorably compared (by Karl Ulrich Schnabel, among others), he has made a specialty of the long-neglected piano sonatas of Franz Schubert. His early '80s recordings of the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven, for Book-of-the-Month Records and Elektra/Nonesuch, brought his insightful artistry to a wider public. He has not eschewed modern music, though his tastes run toward a more conservative style of modernism; the works of George Perle are prominent in his repertoire. A concern for the inner essence of music and its architectural balance has made him into an introspective artist; the self-effacement that so often goes with this introspection (plus a dollop of chronic stage fright) kept Goode from seeking out the solo concert spotlight for many years. It was only after the encouragement of respected friends and colleagues (Leonard Bernstein among them) that he left the relative security of playing chamber music and took the decisive step toward a solo career. Goode was 47 years old when he made his acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut with a program that included, characteristically, Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze. Goode is possessed of a restless intellect and has developed passions for literature (Moby Dick and Finnegan's Wake rank high on his list). He has explored visual art extensively as well, noting that these seemingly extracurricular pursuits enhance his musical ones. With his wife Marcia, who is a violinist, he lives in New York City.
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Classical - Released February 18, 2003 | Nonesuch
Richard Goode is known to be an excellent musical interpreter, and the performance of these Bach partitas is an example of his skill. He balances just the right amount of dynamic shading and freedoms with tempos to make these partitas come alive on the piano, but not sound overly dramatic. Most of the movements are so complex that keeping the musical lines clear and separate provides enough drama. Goode makes it obvious which lines are important and where each is going, even in the third and first partitas, where he uses fewer dynamic colorings. His touch is not too light and not too heavy, giving the sense that his performance would sound well on the harpsichord, although most of the dynamic coloring would be lost. The album starts with the least-known of the partitas, No. 3 in A minor, with its unusual movements (a Sarabande without the usual emphasis on the second beat; a "Burlesca" instead of a minuet; a "Giga" that is really a fugue). He takes a breather with the somewhat technically easier No. 1 in B flat major, then finishes with the tricky -- both technically and musically -- No. 6 in E minor. The sound quality of the recording gives the piano an intimate feel and although the performance is personal, overall it does not sound introverted. The liner notes give an accurate, movement by movement description of Goode's interpretation of Bach's intentions. In short, this is a good (no pun intended) introduction to Bach's partitas for keyboard.
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