2016 | double LP
Avex Classics AVJL-25893

2015 | DSD recording, SACD-Hybrid disc
Avex Classics AVCL-25869
  • 1
  • 2
    Variation 1
  • 3
    Variation 2
  • 4
    Variation 3, Canon on the Unison
  • 5
    Variation 4
  • 6
    Variation 5
  • 7
    Variation 6, Canon on the Second
  • 8
    Variation 7
  • 9
    Variation 8
  • 10
    Variation 9, Canon on the Third
  • 11
    Variation 10, Fughetta
  • 12
    Variation 11
  • 13
    Variation 12, Canon on the fourth
  • 14
    Variations 13
  • 15
    Variations 14
  • 16
    Variation 15, Canon on the Fifth
  • 17
    Variation 16, Overture
  • 18
    Variation 17
  • 19
    Variation 18, Canon on the Sixth
  • 20
    Variations 19
  • 21
    Variations 20
  • 22
    Variations 21, Canon on the Seventh
  • 23
    Variations 22, Alla Breve
  • 24
    Variations 23
  • 25
    Variations 24, Cnon on the Octave
  • 26
    Variations 25
  • 27
    Variations 26
  • 28
    Variations 27, Canon on the Ninth
  • 29
    Variations 28
  • 30
    Variations 29
  • 31
    Variations 30, Quodlibet
  • 32
    Aria da capo

Almost two decades after Yasuaki Shimizu’s Cello Suites sent shockwaves through the Japanese music world, Yasuaki Shimizu & Saxophonettes’ Goldberg Variations tackles totally new territory in the ongoing pursuit of the musical ménage à trois of Bach – saxophone – resonant space. Featuring an accentuated bassline with four commanding contrabasses, and five saxophones weaving polyphonic magic, Shimizu’s extensive arrangements create new counterpoints and harmonies in a bold “recomposition” of the Goldbergs – in both senses of the word. Here is the long-anticipated unveiling of a glowing, euphoric paean to Bach’s masterpiece.

Yasuaki Shimizu’s revolutionary interpretation of the Goldberg Variations for five saxophones and four contrabasses thrilled audiences with its intricate tonal mandala in the 2010 world premiere at Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo. But he didn’t stop with the live performance. Drilling deep into his Bach experience, he honed his arrangements and redoubled rehearsals before reassembling the band to record the epic work in the exquisitely resonant Salamanca Hall in Gifu. Indeed, the Saxophonettes play the acoustics of the hall as if they were another instrument.

  • Yasuaki Shimizu’s Bach, and Bach’s Yasuaki Shimizu, are back at last. … A brilliant sax and bass ensemble with a different feel again to that of the Cello Suites – naturally with plenty of curve balls thrown in.
    — Intoxicate


    Shimizu’s sound is a sensual pleasure, a balm to both ears and mind. A beguiling 66 minutes that never falter.
    — Stereo


    Johann Sebastian cloaked in a stylish kimono: welcome to the “world music” future of Bach.
    — CD Journal


    The nuances and tempo of each Variation evolve in exhilarating freestyle fashion. Utterly compelling … lures us away to myriad destinations….
    — Net Audio


    Classical music, yet somehow different. The “difference” is what makes Shimizu’s music what it is.
    — The Mainichi Shimbun


    The novel combination of sax and contrabass gives the mix of tone color and three- dimensional spatial expression fresh allure…. Bach’s Variations expand in relation to the listener’s capacity.
    — Audio Accessory


    Shimizu’s explorations that began with the Cello Suites reach their pinnacle here.
    — Realtokyo

Produced by Yasuaki Shimizu
Composed by J.S. Bach
Arrangement: Yasuaki Shimizu


Yasuaki Shimizu (tenor saxophone)

Hayashida YuKazu (soprano, alto saxophone)
Egawa Ryoko (alto, soprano saxophone)
East Ryota (baritone saxophone)
Hiroshi Suzuki (baritone, tenor, alto saxophone)

Daisuke Sasaki, Naoko Nakamura, Miyasaka Noriyuki, Atsushi Kuramochi (contrabass)


Recording Director: Keiji Ono (Octavia Records)
Balance Engineer: Ken Muramatsu (Octavia Records)
Recording: 14 to 18 July 2014, Salamanca Hall, Gifu
Mastering: Ken Muramatsu, Exton Studio Yokohama