A variation on a Bach classic


Although most music is in a constant state of change, Spanish pianist Isidro Barrio will create a bigger stir than most when he presents his variation of the “Goldberg Variations” in Tokyo on Feb. 17.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterpiece, comprising 30 variations and originally composed for harpsichord in 1741, is one of history’s most influential examples of variation-form music.

The recital is the sixth in the “Goldberg Variations” series produced by Sumida Triphony Hall since 2006. Focusing on this great work, the series has presented various styles and interpretations, while introducing rising stars and veterans yet unknown in Japan, such as pianists Martin Stadfeld from Germany, the Russian-American Sergey Schepkin and Simone Pedroni from Italy, as well as accordionist Mika Vayrynen from Finland and German organist Frank Volke.

Madrid-born Barrio, 64, studied music at Real Concervatorio Superior de Musica de Madrid (Madrid Royal Conservatory), and then under Bulgarian-born French pianist Alexis Weissenberg (b. 1929) and Italian pianist-conductor Carlo Zecchi (1903-84).

Barrio rose to fame in Europe after releasing a series of CDs that featured works by Spanish composer Antonio Soler, and established a solid reputation through his interpretation of the “Goldberg Variations,” which exploded the classical stereotype of J.S. Bach, featuring uninhibited tempo from extremely slow and elegant aria to high-speed and raging variations.

The upcoming recital is the Japan debut for Barrio, and promises a unique interpretation and soulful performance of “Goldberg Variations.” The performance will also feature the Sonatas by Antonio Soler, one of Barrio’s Spanish specialties.

Isidro Barrio piano recital, featured as Triphony Hall “Goldberg Variations” 2009 takes place at Sumida Triphony Hall in Kinshicho in Sumida Ward, Tokyo on Feb. 17 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets range from ¥3,000 to ¥4,000. Call Triphony Hall Ticket Center (03) 5608-1212.