by Whet Moser
Pianist Christopher Taylor, an associate music prof at the University of Wisconsin, performs the Goldberg Variations on Friday at the University of Chicago. An opportunity to see the Goldbergs is always a treat, and Taylor is an outstanding pianist - his performance of Messiaen's complete, immensely challenging "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus," one of his specialties, last year as part of the Messiaen Festival was one of the most remarkable shows I've ever seen.
But there's more to recommend the show than Taylor and his talent alone. He'll be playing a dual-manual Steinway, the only one of its kind; since the Goldbergs were written for dual-manual harpsichord, the piano removes some of the physical challenges. Of course, it also adds the difficulty of learning a new choreography, as the New York Times critic noted after Taylor debuted his take on the work earlier this year. The NYT has a great video of Taylor explaining the piano in the context of the Goldberg Variations.