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Goldbergs on Acid?

This morning I received an Amazon.com "Classical: Instrumental"
newsletter with the following description for a soon-to-be released
"Goldberg Variations: Aria and 70 Variations Adapted, Arranged and
Composed by Uri Caine" performed by said Uri Caine on piano with the
Kettwinger Bach Ensemble. This is what the reviewer had to say:

"Here's a set of Goldbergs to make Glenn Gould's sound tame. Jazz
pianist Uri Caine, fresh from his inventive rearrangements of Mahler and
Wagner, delivers one of his finest discs to date: his thoroughly
cutting-edge take on Bach's keyboard masterpiece. With Caine playing
everything from Hammond organ to harpsichord to piano, and a battery of
guest DJs, chamber ensembles, jazz musicians, and all-around weirdness,
this is a memorable testament to Bach's enduring genius--and a great
sampling of Caine's sonic vision."

Intrigued, and thinking here might be the most unusual interpretation of
Bach since Walter/Wendy Carlos' Switched-On Bach, I followed the link


Wow! The first sample, the opening track entitled "The Dig It Variation"
certainly promised a subversive, if somewhat cheeky, interpretation of
the Aria, and until I listened to it, I never would have believed that
yodeling and ham-fisted keyboard thumping could sound so... je ne sais
quoi. On to "Don's Variation" which induced a bit of a chuckle (although
I am not sure this was the intended effect), and finally "Olive's Remix"
which quite simply defies description. You'll just have to hear it for

Well, I should have known better. You'll note that in the Amazon review,
the words brilliant, worthy, even the emasculated term "good" and its
variants are nowhere in evidence. Instead, the reviewer hides behind
dualistic terminology such as: memorable, cutting-edge, imaginative,
etc. without having to admit any dangerous concepts, such as beauty,
into the review.

Had the record company not been thoughtful enough to label the disc as
an interpretation of Bach's GV I never would have known this recording
had anything at all to do with Bach. In fact, I still don't think it has
anything to do with Bach.

Actually, based on what I heard in the samples, Uri Caine's music might
possibly have some use as, if not quite an instrument of torture (that
would be too cruel), an insidious (if only slightly less
anti-humanitarian) method of disorienting and unnerving the enemy. I am
thinking here of the US army's imaginative employment of music in the
movie, Apocalypse Now, and of the real-life musical sensory-overload
technique employed in the Waco Branch-Davidian sect standoff, but
perhaps one of you musicologists or jazz buffs out there can explain
other possible merits of this disc to me.

Birgitte Jorgensen