Monday, June 25, 2018

Evanston: The World Cup and the Goldberg Variations

        Naturally I am watching the soccer/football World Cup.
        I watched some of the one in 2014 at the Waikiki Yacht Club in Honolulu, not long into my present voyage, and sailed for Apia on the day Belgium eliminated the U.S. in the Round of 16.
        There were those who before I sailed from San Diego bet that I would quit in Hawaii.
        I don't hear that much anymore.  And considering my record shouldn't have then.
        There have been some good matches this year with some exciting finishes.  I have no favorite and would not even if the U.S. had qualified.  FIFI wants the U.S. in the World Cup and makes it incredibly easy for the country to be there.  That it isn’t, losing to soccer giant Trinidad/Tobago in its final match when even a draw would have seen the US qualify, is ridiculous.
        I did hope that Iceland, with a population of only 337,000 by far the smallest country ever in the World Cup, would perform well.
        I often watch sports listening to music with the television muted.
        Recently I have been listening to Bach’s Goldberg Variations performed on harpsichord by David Shemer.
        Several weeks ago the NY TIMES ran an article about the possible virtues of playing the Goldberg Variations on harpsichord rather than piano.
        I already had the Glenn Gould 1955 and 1981 recordings of the Goldberg on piano.  The 1955 made him famous, but I seem to recall reading that he preferred the 1981.
        The Shemer performance is not available digitally, so I ordered a CD from Amazon to be delivered to Evanston and found it upon my return last week.
        I am in no way qualified to judge whether the harpsichord is preferable to the piano for this or any other work.  
        I have listened to all three performances several times again.  Often the same track in each version in succession.
        The harpsichord sound is more complex and to me fuller than that of the piano, so much so that the Goldberg Variations played on harpsichord seems almost an entirely different composition than on the piano.
        I like and will continue to listen to all three performances. 
        If you have any interest in this sort of thing, you might want to seek out Shemer or some other harpsichord version of the Goldberg and hear for yourself.