Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Harpa, Austurbakka 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

In Harpa’s main concert hall, Eldborg, home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Víkingur Ólafsson continued his extensive tour of Bach’s ‘Aria and thirty variations’ with the first of three Goldberg recitals in the recently built Harpa, the first concert taking place on May 4, 2011. Having recorded the set for DG, if the recitals prior to this one in Reykjavik have been as impressive then Ólafsson has been artistically flying, for he graced Eldborg with a scintillating and searching account of this mighty work – uninhibited, inward (such moments seemed spontaneous as well as being solemnly expressive), grand, immaculate of rhythm and decoration (although it could be detractingly only about virtuosity); contrasts of character and volume abounded as befits the music’s diversity. The broadcast sound was excellent – immediate, clear, dynamic – to relay Ólafsson’s identification with and commitment to Bach’s fecund imagination framed by the ‘Aria’ that was treated by Ólafsson as a potentially promising point of departure, and, on return, as a gentle reminder of what had spawned the commentaries. (subscription needed)