Carnegie Hall, New York / Beethoven
"“Resignation, what a wretched resource! Yet it is all that is left to me,” Beethoven wrote in 1801, despairing at his encroaching deafness and other physical ailments. A sense of resignation and acceptance pervades the triptych of sonatas that he completed in 1822, given majestic, profound readings by the pianist Richard Goode on Wednesday evening at Carnegie Hall.
Mr. Goode has been studying these three sonatas since his youth, estimating that he has performed Opus 110 in some 100 concerts. He has also made much-admired recordings on the Nonesuch label.
But this season marks the first time that he has played all three sonatas together. Among the myriad alluring elements of his performance on Wednesday was the sense of architecture, a narrative arc through calm, suffering, conflict and transformation that proved striking in both the individual sonatas and in the program as a whole. Mr. Goode’s playing throughout was organic and inspired, the noble, introspective themes unfolding with a simplicity that rendered them all the more moving…
On Wednesday, Mr. Goode — with his wife, the violinist Marcia Weinfeld, at his side as page turner — produced a glowing, warm sound that traversed the full dynamic spectrum from hushed intimacy to agitated power without ever sounding either contrived or harsh.
Interspersed with the sonatas, whose innovative forms and styles depart from the precedents established by Mozart and Haydn, were selections from Beethoven’s Bagatelles (Op. 119). His Leipzig publisher thought that these elegant miniatures were so trite that no one would believe that Beethoven had composed them, but there was nothing trifling about Mr. Goode’s characterful, witty and virtuosic interpretations.
The melody in the concluding passages of the Sonata Opus 111, which concluded the program, unfolded with radiant grace against Mr. Goode’s pearly trills. The audience, quiet and still throughout the evening, applauded eagerly, seeming hopeful for an encore. Mr. Goode offered none, but none was needed — the evening felt perfect and complete just as it was."
Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, May 2013
Town Hall, New York / Recital with Soprano Sarah Shafer
“It is rarely in question who the star of a song recital is. The emerging young soprano Sarah Shafer was accompanied by the distinguished pianist Richard Goode. Solo selections were a nod to Mr. Goode’s renown: two works by Schubert — one of the Klavierstücke and an impromptu — and two Brahms intermezzos, given with both practiced eloquence and unassuming freedom. His playing was polished yet essayistic and almost extemporaneous. Not often does a pianist make the designation of a piece as an impromptu seem so movingly appropriate.”
Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, December 2012
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington / Beethoven
“Goode applied his sharpest powers of inquiry to the most elusive music ever written for the instrument (the final three sonatas), and brought the audience into a new place… Goode is always a pleasure to listen to; the mark of a great artist is that nothing sounds rushed, no matter how fast he plays or how wide the dynamic range. His technique is a model of efficiency…”
Robert Battey, The Washington Post, October 2012
Carnegie Hall, New York / Schumann & Chopin
“…anyone who has followed Mr. Goode’s five-decade career knows that a program’s apparent limitations amount to little if he is in an exploratory mood, and more often than not, he is. Here his fluid, often tempestuous performances had the twin virtues of fidelity to the scores and the sense of freshness that comes of an in-the-moment approach to phrasing.
“That was especially true of the Chopin works in the second half of the program. Over the last dozen years, Mr. Goode said in a recent interview, he has been especially drawn to Chopin’s distinctive approach to the piano and the spirit of improvisation that his works embody.
“He conveyed that quality in his rhythmically restless rendering of the Nocturne No. 16 (Op. 55, No. 2), an impetuous, dramatic reading of the Ballade No. 3 (Op. 47) and a performance of the Scherzo No. 3 (Op. 39) that began stormily and melted into a graceful but assertive account of the choralelike central section, with its layers of sparkling filigree.
“And in several waltzes (Op. 64, Nos. 2 and 3, and Op. 34, No. 3), as well as the Mazurka No. 15 (Op. 24, No. 2), which he offered as his first encore, Mr. Goode probed the flexibility of Chopin’s dance rhythms convincingly and affectingly.
“Earlier Mr. Goode had lifted the curtain on Schumann’s fantastical inner vision in thoughtfully shaped performances of “Kinderszenen” and “Kreisleriana.” These works describe different universes. In “Kinderszenen” Schumann puts us into a child’s world, and Mr. Goode’s considered phrasing and subtle coloration suited both the painterly surfaces and the frequent temperamental shifts that drive the picturesque miniatures that make up the work.
““Kreisleriana,” inspired by the manic protagonist of an E. T. A. Hoffmann novel, is Schumann at his wildest. Mr. Goode’s charged, fiery account illuminated the work’s inner turmoil mainly by characterizing the demons at the heart of it. It was the kind of reading that explained Clara Schumann’s comment to Schumann before their marriage: “Sometimes your music actually frightens me.””
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, April 2012
Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley (Cal Performances) / Mozart, Beethoven & Chopin
“For discerning piano aficionados, though, there was really only one choice — Richard Goode’s solo recital Sunday afternoon at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Presented by Cal Performances, with a full house in attendance, the great American pianist gave the kind of splendidly refreshing performance that washes the dust from even the most oft-performed works.“Currently in his 50th year of concertizing, Goode remains one of the titans of the piano repertoire. […] Sunday’s performance of music by Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin is likely to linger in the memory as one of the finest of the year.
“Goode is a consummate performer, one whose technique is precise, alert, always eloquent. He’s also an artist of great restraint — uncommonly subtle and charmingly self-effacing. In each performance, he seems utterly inside the music at hand, affording the listener an intimate, insightful glimpse into the composer’s interior world of emotion and ideas.
“That sense of intimacy was established in the first moments of Sunday’s wondrous opening performance of Mozart’s Fantasy and Sonata in C Minor, K. 475, followed, without a break, by the composer’s Sonata in C Minor, K. 457. The Fantasy is structured in five large paragraphs, played continuously, and Goode clearly savored the challenges of its rapid passagework, sudden shifts in tempo, and unexpected modulations; the phrasing of the turbulent Piu allegro yielded a world of arresting, kinetic sonorities. Still, what registered most forcefully was Goode’s ability to summon the distinctive qualities of Mozart’s thoughtful inner expression. No other pianist today seems quite as adept at articulating the composer’s light-refracting, time-suspending brilliance and his infinite variety.
“Goode made his shift from the sublime, mercurial Mozart to an ebullient performance of Beethoven’s Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3, seem a natural and necessary progression. Goode was the first American pianist to record the complete Beethoven sonatas, and his affinity for this music is simply awe-inspiring. The elegant statements of the opening Allegro movement have rarely emerged with such focus and crisp definition. Goode imparted formal coherence, and propulsive vigor, to the scherzo’s skittering juxtapositions and the menuetto’s rapid-fire effusions. The finale’s burst of ideas — at once richly poetic and fiercely forward-thinking — is enough to overcome most pianists. Goode covered its full spectrum with miraculous precision and expressive flair.
“After intermission, and in the encore, Goode turned to Chopin, offering a beguiling sampler of the composer’s solo piano works. He began with the wistful Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 55, No. 2; here, the composer’s broad harmonies suggest an alluringly blended vocal duet. Goode, unlike many of his contemporaries, resists mannerism and avoids exaggeration, and the music sounded all the more penetrating for his restraint.
“The Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 39, was marked by rhythmic assertiveness and keen dynamics, and the Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, Op. 47, elicited tender, silken sonorities. Best of all was a grouping of Chopin waltzes — particularly the Waltz in C-sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2. Goode’s performance, delicately phrased and rich in emotional nuance, was pure perfection.”
Georgia Rowe, San Francisco Classical Voice, March 2012
Shriver Hall, Baltimore / Mozart, Beethoven & Chopin
“… a typically eloquent recital by Richard Goode.”
“Chopin was the focus after intermission. Where some pianists tend to bring out the softer side of the composer's music and others the muscular, Goode managed to honor both.”
“I loved, too, Goode's encores -- Chopin's C major Mazurka (Op. 24, No. 2), with its piquant twists and turns; and Schumann's "Traumerei," phrased with effortless grace.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, March 2012
Folly Theater, Kansas City / Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann & Chopin
“Stating the obvious, Richard Goode is a gifted piano player. His technique is solid, but his commitment to the music is what sets him apart from many of the other pianists I’ve had the privilege of seeing live. There is no pretense—Goode hums and sways and mouths along with the articulation he’s seeking in a way that walks right up to the line of distraction without crossing it. His musical ideas are grounded and simple, never pursuing anything glitzy or out-of-scope with the composer’s intentions. His left hand is wonderfully delicate, especially on fast-moving passages, but he’s capable of unleashing it when it counts. Perhaps the most impressive element of his artistry is his expressive range, which he again uses with great restraint. He is capable of keeping the music in a box when it calls for it, but brought the hammer on a few occasions throughout the evening that brought a lot of excitement to the performance like a rarely-used but well-timed expletive.”
Erik Klackner, KCMetropolis.org, March 2012
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto / Schumann, Brahms & Chopin
“Richard Goode was at the top of his legendary game on Tuesday, when he played for a packed house at Music Toronto.”
“Goode’s performance introduced the qualities that would hold us rapt for the rest of the evening: an effortlessly singing tone and transparent textures; rhythm that was flexible but unfussy, a beautiful balance between romantic reflectiveness and improvisatory freshness.”
“Here’s hoping for a return engagement soon.”
Tamara Bernstein, The Globe and Mail, March 2012
Symphony Center, Chicago / Schumann, Brahms & Chopin
“RICHARD GOODE’S PIANISM ONCE AGAIN SHOWS THE ART THAT CONCEALS ART”
“Richard Goode is a pianist’s pianist, a keyboard artist of insight and refinement, and the polar opposite of those young firebrands who use the music primarily as a vehicle for aggrandizing, self-serving display.
“Sunday afternoon the American pianist offered a program of cornerstone repertoire that showcased his distinctive and selfless art to a large turnout at Symphony Center.
“Goode opened the program with Schumann’s Kinderszenen. To these fanciful yet never naive evocations of childhood scenes, Goode brought just the right atmospheric touch. The opening “Of Foreign Lands” was given a gracious simplicity, and the playful expression of these miniatures was finely judged throughout with a mix of light caprice and nostalgic ache.
“The pianist is often at his finest in Brahms’ late works, and so it proved again in the Seven Fantasies, Op. 116. Goode assayed the storm-tossed drama and bravura of the Capriccios with all due dexterity. But it was the intermezzi’s predominant ruminative expression that really shone, rendered with a gentle musing and tender, unsentimental introspection that felt just right.
“The shortish second half was devoted entirely to Chopin, and Goode’s performances of the Polish composer’s music was truly the art that conceals art. The Nocturne in E flat, Op. 55, No. 2, blended strength and nobility and a set of three waltzes benefited from freshness and urgency with an especially playful, scintillating account of the Waltz in F major, Op. 34, No. 3.
“For all his tonal refinement, Goode can throw off the fireworks with the best of them, and the bravura pages of the Scherzo No. 3 and Ballade No. 3 were dispatched with a fizzing virtuosity that was thrilling in its abandon.“For his encores, Goode offered an elegant rendering of Chopin’s Mazurka in C Major, Op. 24, No. 2 and a wonderfully witty and feline account of the Scherzo from Beethoven’s Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3.”
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, March 2012
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York / Schumann, Brahms & Chopin
“Slee Hall’s Lippes Concert Hall was packed Friday night for a rare recital by pianist Richard Goode.“There were all kinds of people — classical musicians, jazz musicians, world music musicians and other folks who just liked to listen. There were all ages, too, from elder statesmen to toddlers.“You had to hand it to Goode, drawing such a crowd. You had to hand it to Buffalo, too. As one fan exulted, there were no bells and whistles, just Schumann, Brahms and Chopin. And here was this gigantic crowd, packed together, listening in incredible silence. Even the little kids. It was remarkable.
“Goode is the kind of musician who wins attention
“He looks unassuming, which is part of his charm. He walks out smiling, almost apologetically. Then he sits down to play, and it’s entrancing.
“That unassuming nature shines in his playing. Goode thinks deeply about the music he plays — he wrote the liner notes to the Chopin that appeared in the University at Buffalo program (the headline: “A Few Words on the Second Half”).
“But the music sounds spontaneous. It is enchanting in a straightforward, unaffected way.
“Schumann’s “Scenes From Childhood” had nostalgia but also wit. You had to love Goode for not over-engineering the simple pieces. His tempos were steady, everything has a classical sensibility. The music unfolded naturally.
“Goode lets himself have fun with the music. He appears to enjoy himself. As one classical music newbie said, he looks happy.
“His eyes were half closed, he smiled, he seemed blissed out and unself-conscious.
“His sense of humor was in evidence. The mood could turn on a dime from sunshine to shadow, or sometimes just a subtle change of light.
““Traumerei” was sweet without being overly sentimental. The last piece, “The Poet Speaks,” had a slow but not overbearing dignity.
“Seven Brahms Piano Pieces, Op. 116, benefited from his natural spontaneity. They got off to a dramatic start — Goode walked out, smiled quizzically at us, hesitated a second, then sat down and threw himself into the music.
“Goode is a wonderful Brahms pianist. He is free with the pedal and the big, rich chords have a rounded glow. He brings out the harmonies, giving the treble notes a bell-like tone and delineating the inner voices in a way that made you notice, sometimes for the first time, what Brahms was doing.
“The Capriccio in G minor, with its sweeping waltz, had chivalry and charm. The E major Intermezzo emerged with an effortless grace. Goode clearly revels in this music.
“The Chopin continued the excitement. One highlight was the Scherzo No. 3, where the chorale melody sang, in contrast to the arpeggios. His technique may be understated, but it is excellent.“The three waltzes resisted schmaltz — the often-overlooked Waltz in A flat, Op. 64, No. 3, was a special delight. The concluding Ballade No. 3 won a standing ovation.
“Goode rewarded it with an encore: the questioning, melancholy A minor Mazurka, Op. 17, No. 4.”
Mary Kunz Goldman, The Buffalo News, March 2012
International Piano Series - Royal Festival Hall, London / Schumann & Chopin
“At more than 2,500 seats, the Royal Festival Hall is a challenging venue for a solo piano recital. In the winter half of this year’s International Piano Series only Richard Goode is booked there, while the others have opted for the smaller Queen Elizabeth Hall next door – an irony when Goode is the last pianist alive to indulge in the kind of outgoing, knock-’em-dead playing that a hall of this size would seem to demand.
Now in his late 60s, Goode has risen to the top on his own terms. His favoured area of the repertoire is the classical era, where he is regarded especially highly as a Beethoven interpreter, and when he ventures further afield, he takes the mantle of a serious classicist with him.
For his recital on Sunday afternoon he offered one half Schumann, the other half Chopin. A few years ago Lang Lang played solo Schumann in this hall and his noisy, all-out assault on the music turned it into an incomprehensible gabble. There could hardly be a pianist at a further extreme to that than Goode, who started with a performance of Kinderszenen so understated that he might have been playing for himself alone. In the more heated emotions of Kreisleriana, exactly the kind of Schumann where Lang Lang had torn passion to shreds, Goode scrupulously kept the interweaving parts clear-headed, the intellect rigorously holding off any temptation to play the virtuoso.
The shorter pieces by Chopin were on a bigger scale, but not by much. The Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op.55 No.2, projected its singing lines with a little more intent. In the Scherzo No.3 the moments of introspection made more impact than Goode’s effortful double octaves. A group of three waltzes was perfectly contained. Even in the Third Ballade, where the music offers varied opportunities to show off, every invitation was eschewed in favour of story-telling that sang as artlessly as a Schubert ballad – an extraordinary act of denial, though an interesting change after all those pianists who like to play Chopin on steroids.
What we really want is for Goode to give a private recital for each of us in his drawing-room. Could the Royal Festival Hall please be shrunk to fit?”
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, February 2012
“The American pianist Richard Goode doesn’t give many recitals, but his uniquely personal vision ensures that each one is special.
His Brahms and Beethoven are magisterial, but what draws the crowd is his singular aura, and the intensely-pondered quality of his playing.
Here he opened with Schumann’s Kinderszenen, thirteen short pieces in which the world of childhood is evoked from the perspective of maturity, with the intention of conveying, as Schumann put it to his young bride Clara, an atmosphere which was ‘peaceful, tender, and happy, like our future’. And so it was as Goode launched into the first piece, ‘Of strange lands and people’. He made the piano sing with a sweet artlessness, establishing an intimate and confidential tone which he then maintained throughout. ‘Important event’ felt important only in a play-acting sense, ‘Reverie’ was not over-dramatised, and the rocking-horse knight rode out bravely; ‘Child falling asleep’ suggested folds within folds, and in the concluding ‘The poet speaks’ that poet was indubitably Goode himself. The keyboard was touched rather than struck, and the tone wonderfully controlled.
Then came the Kreisleriana suite, a more showy and extravert work, but with Goode this too had a lovely subtlety. He opened extremely fast, projecting a relatively small sound with such expressiveness that one seemed to be hearing this complex work for the first time; conceiving its episodic structure in very long spans, he gave it unusual cohesion.
Michael Church, The Independent, February 2012
“Richard Goode’s contribution to the Southbank Centre’s International Piano Series offered almost unalloyed delight. Indeed, I should struggle – and see no reason why I ought to struggle – to find anything about which even to quibble from the first half, devoted to Schumann. The first piece of Kinderszenen welcomed us in, as if the welcome came directly – which, in a way, it did – from a wise and kindly storyteller. How was this accomplished, both here and later in the work? Through imagination, certainly, but also through well-nigh perfect weighting of every chord, and communication of the connections between every note. Memories of and sympathy towards childhood permeated performance and score alike. Pieces such as ‘Bittendes Kind’ and ‘Gluckes genug’ were delectable, thanks to Goode’s irreproachable tonal understanding. Voice-leading sounded impeccably natural, whilst judicious rubato made points without underlining. It is a cliché, doubtless, but ‘Träumerei’ proved the true, still centre to the work, not least to a marriage of pellucid, Murray Perahia-like tone with harmonic grounding that put me in mind of Wilhelm Kempff. Irresistible rhythmic impetus – and that includes harmonic rhythm – brought ‘Ritter von Steckenpferd’ to life. Goode’s placing of the opening chords in ‘Der Dichter spricht’ and his spinning of the line emerging therefrom brought a sense, despite horrendous bronchial contributions from sections of the audience, of magical reverie with direction. Sadly, some of the performance was blighted by noise from outside the hall: what sounded like drumming, at one point. But it is testimony to Goode’s performance that it rose above such distractions.
Kreisleriana opened with a movement by turns tempestuous and dreamily poetic, Florestan and Eusebius setting the scene for the work as a whole. The two ensuing intermezzi evoked a similar, continued contrast and competition, which yet retained common poetic ground. Scales were transmuted into something so much more in the third movement, whilst the fifth imparted a fine sense of a snapshot, neither begun nor completed, but rather revealed to us for a while. The opening of the final movement flickered like Schubert’s Irrlicht, though was always underpinned by absolute rhythmic security. Its passionate central section was striking for its unforced sincerity: that both of pianist and composer.
The Chopin works performed in the second half were different from those previously advertised (the E major Nocturne, op.62 no.2, and the third sonata). There was little to regret, though. The opening Nocturne, op.55 no.2, presented not an old world Chopin, but one whose sparkle, not least in the trills, looked forward to Debussy and Ravel. Dramatic rhetoric in the opening of the third Scherzo made me eager to hear Goode in Liszt; there was certainly a touch of Mephistopheles here, and the final climax proved as diabolical as anything in Liszt’s own music. One should not forget, though, the delicacy with which Goode made Chopin’s decoration sing: not ‘mere’ decoration, but true, melodic inspiration. The two op.64 waltzes performed (nos 2 and 3) charmed without skating over the very real depths to be found here, especially the yearning of the C-sharp minor waltz.”
Mark Berry, Boulezian, February 2012
“Richard Goode’s playing always has an inner strength that makes for most satisfying listening in Bach and the Viennese Classical works. How would he fare in the High Romantic period in this International Piano Series matinee recital? I came away highly pleased with my two hours spent in Goode’s company.
Hearing Schumann’s two consecutive opuses from 1838 one after the other was splendid; and Goode made me feel that even Kinderszenen hangs together as an entity. The more virtuosic sections were played with superb technical address, immense character and hardly a smudge. The slower, quieter pieces such as ‘Bittendes Kind’ or ‘Träumerei’ were kept moving, so that they emerged as tender but not sentimental.”
Tully Potter, ClassicalSource.com, February 2012
Perth Concert Hall, Scotland / Schumann & Chopin
“The doyen of American pianists Richard Goode played a fascinating programme of Schumann and Chopin in Perth Concert Hall on Friday.
To describe Goode as American and a pianist is perhaps true, but his playing showed him to be much more – a complete musician: in him the aspects of thought and technical technique were thoroughly united.
His first half was devoted to two major works by Robert Schumann. He began with Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) Op.15. In his hands these showed themselves to be miniatures only in length, the 13 pieces taking not many more minutes to perform. He opened up Schumann’s world right from the start of Of Strange Lands and People lyrically at home with the voicing of individual lines, their rhythms and combinations, above all the sense of fantasy. He showed nimbleness in Catch and encouraged a warm tone from the superb Perth Concert Hall piano in Happy Enough. He had a nice ceremonial touch for Important Event leading into a deeply felt Träumerei (Dreaming) where the melodies seemed unbound to the barlines. He was nicely playful in Knight of the Rocking Horse, with the deepest emotion kept for the envoi The Poet Speaks.
Kreisleriana Op.16 which followed had all of these virtues plus a touch of insanity, suitable for Hoffmann’s character Johannes Kreisler, the subject of these eight character pieces. It did have a mad start, but with a wonderful lyrical riposte the supporting harmonies well brought out. The third piece contrasted the rhythmic outer sections with a rolling legato where Schumann’s lines were beautifully integrated. The abrupt return emphasized darkness. The sixth piece began with chivalrous Romanticism, the seventh with almost psychotic rushing. All was vividly portrayed in this too rarely played work.
One of Charles Ives’ odder comments was that “we always tend to think of Chopin in a skirt.” Not as played by Richard Goode! In no way denying his insight and supreme sensitivity there was vigour and dramatic power. The Nocturne Op.55 No.2 was forthright and lyrical, but with too much light for a night piece, notwithstanding the sensitive fioriture at the end. The Scherzo No.3 had an ominous introduction to the dramatic main section. The big tune was exactly that, really impressive. There were intentionally disquieting passages and a hurtling coda leading to a tragic finish. The Ballade No.3 had equally strong playing, its central section playful yet with underlying grandeur, calling magnificent sounds from the instrument. Between these two were three waltzes all flighted with a nice lilt and sprung rhythms.
Recalled repeatedly to the platform he delighted his entranced audience with a Mazurka, Op.24 No.2, which glinted and flashed and, returning to Schumann, a piece from his Davidsbündlertänze of fine lyricism.”
Ian Stuart-Hunter, Perthshire Advertiser, February 2012
“When I was young I was given a recording of Richard Goode playing Beethoven's late piano sonatas. Even repertoire aside, it wasn't the obvious choice for a child; Goode's style is anything but flashy and, though at that point he would have been just middle-aged, his emotional engagement has always seemed more that of a knowing veteran than a fresh-eyed explorer. But those discs had a huge impact on me. Mostly, they proved that detachment can be as powerful a tool as high drama. At 68, Goode is the statesman of American piano playing, and still his playing eschews predictability. With that characteristic detachment, this recital posed surprises and challenges in the most well-trodden of repertoire.
Schumann's Kinderszenen was treated with breezy affection – more like browsing through a picture book than reliving childhood memories – while Kreisleriana was muscular and often brusque. Goode's tone tends to be more bright than conventionally beautiful, favouring sparse voicings that can sound steely. This was Schumann the modern-day realist, not Schumann the whimsical dreamer.
When it comes to Chopin, whose music made up the programme's second half, Goode's refusal to turn maudlin makes his interpretations remarkable. The Scherzo in C sharp minor Op 39 was a force of stoicism, and the set of waltzes (A flat major Op 64 No 3; C sharp minor Op 64 No 2 and F major Op 34 No 3) wore their triple-time swing lightly, every note making logical sense next to its neighbour. It's curious that Goode murmurs along at the keyboard, but I like that he does; it's the one personal indulgence in an otherwise sleek and deeply considered performance.”
Kate Molleson, The Guardian, February 2012
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia (Philadelphia Chamber Music Society) / Mozart, Beethoven & Chopin
“The first half of the Kimmel Center concert had Goode on solid home territory with Beethoven and Mozart, whose Fantasy in C minor (K. 475) requires, from its first notes, so many musical elements that could never be put on the page. The insistent, regular rhythms that begin the piece set the stage for this uncharacteristically brooding music, but with a subtle rhythmic bounce and a glowing timbre that few pianists can manage, giving the moment a more yielding musicality. […] Bass notes entered, in Goode's hands, with a sense of interrupted logic that suddenly created a new logic.”
“Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E flat major (Op. 31 No. 3) […] showed why he is considered one of the world's premier Beethoven specialists. Every chord was its own world, but one that clearly grew out of the last.”
Rockport Music, Massachusetts / Schumann & Chopin
“Unassuming and with no shortage of gentility begins somewhat to describe this most remarkable pianist, whose tonal colors cover the full spectrum yet are imbued more often than not with warm, vibrant earth tones. Every once in a while in the Robert Schumann pieces he played could be heard in astonishing puddles of sound emanating from the middle low register of the keyboard. They spoke mounds.”
“…I just could not stop thinking throughout the afternoon’s concert about how there are so many meaningful notes to play, to hear, to grasp that Goode had me leaning on every single one of those thousands if not millions of little dots designating this or that key on the piano. Not a single note gets any less attention than any other in Richard Goode’s scheme of things.”
“This experience on Sunday afternoon, October 2, seemed somewhat like a dream. Here I was, looking out that big, completely windowed wall behind Goode and seeing a seascape out of Debussy’s La Mer, when, like an illusionist, Goode turned my gaze totally upon his musical conjuring of some of the most subtle dialogues I’d never heard before. As I said, he’s a talker at the keyboard and tells stories that keep you hanging on every word, or note, as it were. Personages of all sorts emerged in Schumann’s dialectical Florestan-Eusebius compositional world. Scenes shifted, as they do in the best movies, you are here and before you know you are there. I do not believe there was a single moment during the entire program that I did not understand what this or that note or move meant or why it belonged as it did.”
“I did observe quite often in the clearest of ways how Goode drew interior voices into dramatic discourse. “Rolling” was a word that kept recurring; that is how the notes he played sounded coming off his fingertips. For his Chopin […] emotion of a very different sort sprang from this artist’s complete sense of piano being an adventure in colored articulation. Moods seem not to be high on his endgame. I heard dance moves and gestures through his marvelous left hand and right hand rubato playing, wondering if, in fact, each of his hands were in a pas-de-deux this time in sync, the next time not, and a third kind — a polyphony of rubatos, if you will.”
“Two encores, one of Chopin and one of Bach brought this ever-so-artful and personal outing to a close. Richard Goode’s foray into the infinitesimal in articulation, spectrum of color, and the millisecond in time adds up to an incomparable art of pianism.”
David Patterson, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, October 2011
Piano aux Jacobins, Toulouse / Byrd, Bach, Chopin & Schubert
“This engaging artist, so rarely heard in France, demonstrated the full measure of his talent – formed of artistic integrity, musical mastery and force of conviction – in a programme that was both varied and constant. The richness of his finger-work and depth of analysis allowed this authentic musician to tackle different styles with equal fidelity. And the variety of styles presented in his programme certainly showed an open-mindedness that is rarely to be found on the concert stage these days. After the supreme elegance with which he brought out the details of William Byrd’s two Pavanes and Galliards, Richard Goode breathed new life into J.S. Bach’s Partita in E minor, BWV.830. In Chopin’s Four Mazurkas and his Polonaise Fantasie, light and shade intermingled in an eerie twilight atmosphere. Finally, he guided us gently along the initiatory journey that is Franz Schubert’s last Sonata D.960, in which the composer lifts us to new heights and faraway places. Richard Goode rightly chose the simplicity and naturalness required by this music of the heart and soul.”
Serge Chauzy, Voix du Midi, September 2010
“Hearing American pianist Richard Goode is an extreme pleasure in France, as his appearances in Europe are so rare. This was his last concert before his annual sabbatical, and his commitment was unquestionable. In a programme of extraordinary generosity, he covered a range of fascinating repertoire.”
“The two pavanes and gaillardes by William Byrd, written for the virginals, undergo poetic recreation on the impressive Steinway. Rhythmical precision and delicate finger-work allowed Richard Goode to express the subtlety of these dances, and the indescribable beauty of William Byrd’s melodies […] Goode wove a sort of lunar lace, and the two pieces danced by like sighs.”
“Bach’s great Partita No.6 flourished under the pianist’s perfect precision as he focussed the tone into a rounded epicentre of warmth and human tenderness. Bach became timeless and eternal, his music both calm and virtuosic under Goode’s swift fingers. He brought out the most delicate musicality without the slightest ostentation. The final gigue, with its complex fugal entries, was of a luminous purity, the precision made all the more staggering by the absence of rigidity, whilst the rhythm remained implacably constant.”
“In Chopin’s four Mazurkas, Op.33, Richard Goode illustrated a connection with Bach that is all too rarely discerned. The strictness of the structure was honoured without inhibiting the unfolding of an extravagance so true to the spirit of the polish composer, who regarded this elegant and supple dance so highly. In Goode’s hands, the short pieces of the opus were like princely jewels. But it was in the Polonaise Fantasie where the pianist, transported by the vast proportions of the work, most clearly invoked the tormented soul of Chopin, in order to deliver a performance that was both feverish yet completely controlled. The paradox of Richard Goode’s interpretation, mingling extravagance and precision, led him to employ extreme nuances and colours that were either flamboyant or bloodless; an unusual rhythmic precision and a subtle manner of inhabiting the silences.”
“He made us forget the piano and hear only the very essence of music itself. The audience were numb to stark reality after such a beautiful performance.”
“Richard Goode, too rarely heard in concert, is above all an inspired musician, respectful of each distinct style, and able to communicate to the audience his respect and full understanding of each composer’s intentions.”
Hubert Stoecklin, ClassiqueNews.com, September 2010
“This was the kind of evening at the Jacobin cloisters that everyone loves […] The audience could enjoy at their ease the pleasure of listening to Bach or Chopin on a beautiful summer evening, sat in amongst these walls so full of history. Clearly inspired by the austere beauty of the venue, Richard Goode – the first performer in this year’s Piano aux Jacobins international festival – delivered a sumptuous version of Bach’s partita in E minor. His interpretation was enlivened by a sustained rhythmical pulse and a humane grandeur. The tone was crystal clear and self-evident. Chopin’s Four Mazurkas followed with the same natural ease, then an admirable performance of his Polonaise Fantasy. With his flexible playing, variety of timbres and elegant style, Goode dignified the piece, so often mistreated by others, with true depth. The audience held their breath for an instant before bursting into applause. As Nicole, a frequent visitor to the Jacobins concerts, put it: “The festival has certainly set off on the right foot”.”
Anne-Marie Chouchan, La Dépêche du Midi, September 2010
Rheingau Music Festival / Haydn, Schumann & Chopin
“He began the evening with two sonatas by Joseph Haydn, which he carefully unfolded and infused with light. A particularly memorable passage was the emphatically phrased closing movement of the Sonata in A major. Schubert’s ‘Kreisleriana’ was the centrepiece of the first half of the evening, and Goode excelled himself with his powerful and deeply musical playing.
“The audience’s rapturous applause was rewarded with encores by Bach and Chopin.”
Frankfurter Neue Presse, August 2010
Duets with Jonathan Biss / Debussy, Schumann, Beethoven, Stravinsky & Schubert
"There was no clash of egos … when Richard Goode and Jonathan Biss treated die-hard piano fans (who braved treacherous streets and a blizzard warning) to a superlative partnership. As soloists, the two superb pianists offer insightful and profoundly expressive music making; here they proved ideally matched collaborators.
Mr. Biss and Mr. Goode didn’t prettify any of the rough edges, offering a vigorous performance… a witty, sharp-edged rendition of Stravinsky’s two-piano arrangement of his ballet “Agon” … a richly hued, glowing interpretation of Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor”
Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, February 2010
Mecklenburg Festival recital with Viviane Hagner / Bach, Ysaye, Chopin & Beethoven
“… [Viviane Hagner’s] appearance on Saturday in Schwerin with the American mega-star pianist Richard Goode from New York was in every sense exclusive. Beethoven’s G major sonata and Ysaye’s solo sonata, in which the Dies Irae theme runs emblematically throughout the movements, were perfectly suited to Viviane Hagner’s intense and profound creative power, and her captivating tone. Goode played Bach’s French Suite and a programme of Chopin pieces in his movingly simple yet well thought-out style, full of marvellous sound structures and a strong sense of the melodic lines.”
Die Welt, June 2009
Wigmore Hall recital / Chopin, Bach & Schubert
“If only more pianists wore their thoughtfulness so lightly. Richard Goode's ability to clothe the intellectual backbone of his interpretations in playing of airy mercuriality may not be unique, but it is rare and individual enough to make his recitals unmissable.
A substantial Chopin selection that began with some rustic mazurkas also brought playing of a confiding delicacy, and a masterclass in how to make the composer's freewheeling filigree sound integral to the rest of the music.
Listening to Goode is always rewarding, but it is never hard work.”
Erica Jeal, The Guardian, five stars, February 2009
Recital with Jonathan Biss at the Queen Elizabeth Hall
“Richard Goode had invited Jonathan Biss to join him for the final appearance of his South Bank mini-residency, and so on the platform were perhaps the finest two US pianists of their respective generations.
This partnership is too rewarding to be a one-off.”
The Guardian, five stars, June 2008
“…a recital which is certain to prove a highlight of the year's music-making in London.”
ClassicalSource.com, June 2008
Recital at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris
“Goode plays Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata with a breath-taking perfection - bringing out the important details, separating the wheat from the chaff.
… he has a very personal approach to Chopin which is reminiscent of the sound world of Horszowski, with a control that doesn’t rule out passion, and a capacity to delve into the scores and bring out aspects never before heard.
He represents a cultural exception in a world where flamboyance and illusion are the norm.”
Altamusica, May 2008
Recital at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam / Bach, Beethoven, Chopin & Debussy
“The ‘Homage to Chopin’ started with a remarkable romantically moving and breathing Bach. With a clear focus Goode gave Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C a great melodical freedom and provided four Sinfonias with fast tempo movements and generous dynamics, which combined with great lyricism achieved a comforting, nearly healing effect.
Goode's message was evident: he allows the listener to be fully aware of the deepest layers of Chopin’s intimacy for which he neither requires bloated technique nor exaggerated bravura.”
Noordhollands Dagblad, May 2008
Solo recital at the Queen Elizabeth Hall / ‘Homage to Chopin’
“Each time Goode returned to Chopin, it was like a homecoming. He found insight in the relative simplicity of the mazurkas, and even virtuoso works didn’t sound like tricky showpieces”
“The first of two Debussy Etudes was dispatched with a melting fragility that made one wonder whether this leonine player could really be making such a delicate sound.
This was mellow, mature playing, its emotion strongly felt but only sufficiently signalled. It takes a classy pianist to achieve that.”
The Guardian, February 2008
“This was a superb evening – Goode at the height of his powers…”
ClassicalSource.com, February 2008
Recital in Washington / Debussy
“Pianist Richard Goode brought his customary clarity of thought and finger work to a meaty program of masterworks... In a set of Debussy preludes, Goode was a master tone painter, summoning up the widest palette imaginable on the instrument. In Ondine, he limned a shimmering, darting portrait of the water nymph, and in the climax of La Cathedrale Engloutie the walls veritably shook from the force.”
Washington Post, October 2007
Recital at the Wigmore Hall, London / Brahms, Fauré, Debussy & Haydn
“Goode's handling of Haydn's fragmentary D major sonata of 1773 was light, bright and poised, but there was tonal weight in the broad arc of the adagio and glittering technique in the disconcertingly abrupt finale. The same clarity produced real revelations in Brahms's Fantasias, op. 116. Too often slurred and sweeping in less imaginative hands, the seven miniatures were here pared back, allowing Brahms's characteristic economy and harmonic daring to shine forth. The sixth Nocturne by Fauré, the intellectual pianist's dream composer, allowed Goode to show off a weightier side of his virtuosity. But the second book of Debussy's Preludes took us deepest into his pianism. Debussy's enigmatic qualities make him in many respects the ideal composer for Goode.”
The Guardian, May 2007
Recital in Buffalo / Brahms & Bach
“What Goode does at the piano is warm, engaging and marvelously subtle – mesmerizing... In the hands of a fine pianist like Goode, the colors are never pale or blurred. They're vivid and interesting.”
Buffalo News, February 2007
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra / SCHUMANN: Piano ConcertoCarnegie Hall, New York
“…on Saturday evening at Carnegie Hall this conductorless orchestra teamed up with an old friend, the pianist Richard Goode, who joined the players in a lucid performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto…
“Schumann wrote the concerto as a vehicle for his wife, Clara, a star pianist, and while there are plenty of virtuosic passages and an overall expansive emotional sweep, it’s also an intimate work. The relationship between soloist and orchestra is particularly close: here, without a conductor to mediate, it found an ideal expression.
“Mr. Goode displayed his characteristic attention to nuances of affect and colour delivered in a communicative style of playing, but much of the time his piano was a mere partner in a chamber music ensemble of equals. The symbiotic relationship was particularly evident in the slow movement’s rising and descending scales, shared between soloist and orchestra, which require a little rubato to give them meaning. In these tiny moments of stolen time all players seemed not only to listen intently, but to telepathically anticipate one another’s intentions as well.”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times, March 2013
Boston Symphony Orchestra (Morlot) / MOZART: Piano Concerto No.25
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
“Perched over the keys, quietly humming to himself, this venerable player was performing at his home address with this music. Many pianists will say that Mozart — while not so obviously chops-busting as Chopin or Liszt or much else — is actually the most difficult music to play. Without a trace of showiness, Goode flowed through this work with warmth and ease — with familiar understanding.”
Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News, December 2011
Symphony Hall, Boston
“It was a delight to see and hear Richard Goode so much enjoying his own effortless performance. There are several outstanding Mozart pianists today — Barenboim, Levin, Uchida, Perahia are names that spring instantly to mind — but none better than this laid-back master whose tone and shape reveal him as a spiritual descendant of Schnabel.”
Mark DeVoto, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, November 2011
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (Dudamel) / MOZART: Piano Concerto No.20
“Goode’s Mozart was wondrously living and breathing […]”
“Mozart’s dark and dramatic 20th Piano Concerto was not overly stormy, not with Goode as such a lyrically satisfying Mozartean pianist. Dudamel, here, appeared to defer to a master who crafted each phrase into something that was less a statement and more a suggestion. “There was logic in Goode’s playing, and he produced an exquisitely rounded tone. One note always connected to the next; one thought always connected to the next.”
“Goode’s piano blended with strings, winds and brass like an uncanny musical chameleon. And that is where the notion of suggestion comes in – the Zen-like way he let Mozart be. This was a thinking-man's Mozart that could, contradictorily, be best experienced with unthinking awareness. Dudamel created, for Goode, an accompanimental Zen rock garden, an environment in which a great pianist might place himself.”
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, October 2011
NDR Symphony Orchestra (Axelrod) / MOZART: Piano Concerto No.17
“From the moment the legendary American pianist Richard Goode played his first note, the orchestra were electrified, and seemed to melt naturally into the wonderful simplicity of Goode’s playing.
“Goode was less interested in showy virtuosity than in exploring even the slightest detail with great musicality. He performed the Allegretto Variations in the final movement with playfulness, like a divertimento movement.”
Helmut Peters, Die Welt, February 2010
London Symphony Orchestra (Colin Davis) / MOZART: Piano Concerto No.18
“The first half, a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No 18 in B flat, K456, was outstanding. Davis frequently turned round to face his soloist, Richard Goode, and their view of the music proved to be in perfect alignment.
“Goode combined immaculate fingerwork with a heightened sensitivity to the character of every phrase that was matched by the detailed insights provided by Davis and the LSO players.”
George Hall, The Guardian, February 2009
“…Richard Goode had been the soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No 18 in B flat. Again, Davis revelled in every second of music-making - and well he might, for this was a delectably modest performance of one of Mozart's most modest concertos: entirely Mozartian in its breathing, gentle pathos and mischief, and with Goode's fingers decorating and dancing through the variations of its central song as if eavesdropping with delight on the caprices and follies of Figaro.”
Hilary Finch, The Times, February 2009
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Gilbert) / MOZART: Piano Concerto No.18
“Goode led by example, playing with clarity and a sense of expanding freedom, exuding his appreciation for the music and inspiring his colleagues onstage. The result was a performance in which all parties became equal collaborators.”
“This was the highlight of the program.”
“Goode’s cadenza in the first movement had a harpsichord zippiness, then settled into pearly note-streams, then grew brilliant and rhythmically dashing.”
Oakland Tribune, March 2008
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Fischer) / BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No.2
“Through his clear ideas and gestures Fischer lets a simple series of repeated notes sound in rhetorical barrage. This power of expression also characterizes pianist Richard Goode, who exposed Beethoven’s both lively and profound aspects with colourful and relaxed playing. One could hear from the dialogue in the Adagio that it is not the first time that Goode and Fischer work together in Beethoven; this will also result in a CD recording to be issued shortly (Nonesuch).”
NRC Handelsblad, March 2008
BEETHOVEN: The Complete Sonatas [Nonesuch]
“Get it. For life, it will help you very much. Get old with it, it will most likely just get better every year. It's my favorite life soundtrack, no words needed.”
Ori Kaplan, Dusted Magazine, January 2011
Budapest Festival Orchestra (Fischer) / BEETHOVEN: The Complete Piano Concertos [Nonesuch]
“With a new set of concerto recordings, ever-reliable pianist Richard Goode returns to Beethoven, the composer with whom he is most identified.”
“In 1993, the release of Goode's complete set of Beethoven sonatas created something of a sensation, almost immediately establishing itself as a must-have version of the bedrock works.”
“Teaming with this fine Hungarian orchestra, Goode clearly hopes to do the same thing with the piano concertos, and he certainly comes close, displaying the intelligence, insight and profound expressiveness for which he is well known.”
Kyle MacMillan, The Denver Post, ‘The year’s best discs’, December 2009
“…a supple, measured lyricism that avoids selfindulgent extremes, an equipoise that the veteran Goode, as a successor to Rudolf Serkin, has developed entirely on his own. No one will be surprised by the humane and poetic qualities the pianist brings to the meditative Fourth Concerto, but in the concluding “Emperor” Concerto Goode offers truly revelatory playing, turning that shameless virtuoso showcase into a vibrant, three-dimensional creation.”
Russell Platt, The New Yorker, September 2009
“…the pianist revered even by pianists.”
“Goode’s special gift has always been his selfless artistry: his penetrating intellect, warm heart and nimble fingers are entirely placed at the composers’ service.”
“Goode knows just how to balance and weigh conflicting elements: argument and repose, dark and light, struggle and wit […] Every landmark phrase or interjection pops up freshly felt, as though newly composed.”
“Throughout, the recording is warm and natural. Buy with confidence.”
Geoff Brown, The Times, five stars, ‘CD of the Week’, May 2009
“If you're in the mood to hear five of the greater piano concertos ever written […] then Richard Goode's your man. Oh, there are other pianists who have climbed this mountain, but of the living practicioners, Goode stands alone. He's given the bulk of his creative life to Beethoven. And it shows.”
“I can only echo the reviews I've seen — Goode understands Beethoven, has absorbed this work so fully that, when he plays, it almost feels as if he's composing or improvising..”
“As legendary as those recordings are, I prefer Goode's edition of Beethoven's Complete Piano Concertos.”
“If Richard Goode's name is not familiar, that's almost his design. He's a scholar of the music he loves, not a brash showman — he was 47 before he gave his first solo recital in Carnegie Hall. He plays, he teaches, he reads. And the deeper the dive, the richer the music. It seems right that he was the first American-born pianist to record all the Beethoven sonatas.”
“The drama of Goode's playing is that he reduces the distance between the listener and the composer. He's not looking for fresh interpretations. He knows what's there. I find his description of Beethoven admirable: "Beethoven's music is immensely powerful and positive. It is completely satisfying. Beethoven's music is like a meal made up of all the basic food groups. There is nothing left out.”
“Like Beethoven, Goode has Big Ideas and Grand Goals. "Music takes all the possible feelings we have," he says. "And by somehow ordering them and making something meaningful out of them, music creates a sense of harmony that maybe we can assimilate and carry away.”
Jesse Kornbluth, The Huffington Post, May 2009
“A landmark recording of the Beethoven concertos. Goode makes the familiar sound unexpectedly fresh. He plays without mannerism, without stylistic quirks, without making anything sound predictable.”
Financial Times, five stars, May 2009
“…this is going to become one of the benchmark recordings of these Beethoven masterpieces.”
“All too often with concerto recordings, a star soloist is let down by a rather lacklustre backing band. That's certainly not the case here: the taut, robust playing of the Budapest Festival Orchestra would be a joy to listen to on its own! Add in Goode's joyous, melodic inventiveness and you get a boxed set which sheds new light on old favourites.”
“…one of the best new CDs of the year so far.”
Sam Jackson (Executive Producer) on Classic FM, April 2009
“… Goode brings his precise touch to these five works, letting the lyricism sing out while keeping the majestic architecture always clearly in view.”
Michael Church, The Independent on Sunday, five stars, February 2009
“Goode plays as if he’s submitted each note to hours of careful cognition, yet sounds as spontaneous as a genius improviser. A consistently exemplary set.”
Classic FM Magazine, five stars, February 2009
“Goode is a model of self-restraint: nothing is interposed between the composer’s intentions and the listener.”
The Independent, five stars, February 2009
MOZART (Works for Solo Piano) [Nonesuch]
“…this magnificent CD from one of today’s greatest (and most modest) of pianists. Goode’s way with this music has a rightness and a poise that leaves you with the feeling that it simply can’t be done better.”
James Jolly, Gramophone, ‘Editor’s Choice’, June 2005
“For those who have never heard Richard Goode in concert but treasure his sequence of Mozart concerto recordings, there has been a mounting hunger to hear him in Mozart’s music for solo piano. Their wait is over. His latest Nonesuch release will not disappoint […] As ever with this artist, every work emerges as freshly as though it were newly minted, without a scintilla of idiosyncrasy or mannerism of any kind. This is a pianist who puts the listener immediately (apparently exclusively, or so it feels) in touch with the composer himself. It is a part of his immense sophistication, and a part of his greatness, that he plays with an often transfiguring simplicity achieved by very few […] Mr Goode’s humility is just right, and his subtelty is of a kind, and of an order, that can elude but all connaisseurs. Yet he is among the least exclusive of pianists. The warmth and generosity of his personality, felt by audiences all over the world, is evident in everything he does- butit eludes analysis. You just have to listen.”
Piano, May/June 2005
“One of the finest living players of Mozart, veteran American pianinst Richar Goode brings a wealth of experience and insight to this eclectic programme, dominated by reading of the A minor and F major sonatas full of fresh detail and tender touches…No matter how many times youy’ve heard these works, you will find something new and affecting in Goode’s noble interpretations.”
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Anthony Holden, The Observer, ‘Classical CD of the week’, May 2005