What an evening! What a work! What a pianist!

By Ulrich Hermann | February 2014 | www.the-listener.de

The Argentine pianist Hugo Schuler celebrates his German debut with Bach's "Goldberg Variations" in Hotel Bachmair Weissach in Tegernsee.

If after eighty minutes of most intense musical experience the question "what, has it already ended?" arises, then this is a sign of a very fulfilling evening. (...)

Completely unpretentious, deeply involved, most intense and at the same time with maximum relaxation, Schuler unfolded the introductory (and recapitulating) Aria with its thirty variations. (…) In the thirty variations, Bach uncovers all his polyphonic and harmonic capacities to build a gigantic bow with definite inner correlation, lasting for eighty minutes. He seems to take the listener into a seemingly unlimited galaxy that has nothing to do with the business of daily life in our world and all the problems that we are identified with.

The public at the Festsaal in Hotel Bachmair followed this unique development with most concentrated tension from the first to the last note. Hugo Schuler's performance fulfilled everything that is needed to unfold Bach's cosmos: on the Schimmel grand piano, the canonic variations sounded as fascinatingly transparent as the melancholic labyrinth of the slow sections, where Schuler's art of "let it happen" emerged with particular clarity. (...) The richness of sonorous possibilities and the articulatory flexibility, precision and finesse of Hugo Schuler are as exciting as his rhythmically and motion-wise centered in-depth performance of this huge work.

It is as if one listens to a world premiere and we are (if we may say so) truly beamed away by the appearance of this Clavier-Ubung, as Bach's own completely unpretentious title suggests.

When in variation 25 (Adagio in G minor) the incredibly modern and even free-tonal art of Bach moves into the foreground, Bach's absolute timelessness and "modernity" is proved, but as well the whole fascination of the pianistic phenomenon of this Argentinian Joker Hugo Schuler, who is on the best way to become a trend-setting giant of Bach performance of our days. With his German debut, he gave all his listeners an unforgettable peak of this still very young concert series. The public reacted with its own means: spontaneous standing ovation when the flowers were handed over.