#2 Bach: Goldberg Variations by Rachel Fryer, piano

Music ( Concert, Talk ) Music at Saint Michael's

An established Bach concert in the atmospheric setting of the old church. The aria and all 30 Goldberg variations played in sequence, with an informative pre-concert talk on the history and structure of the suite.

Fryer has performed the sequence in many venues since the inaugural performance at the 2012 Brighton Fringe. Her familiarity with the variations allows her to not only perform to a brilliant standard, but to point out some highlights for the casual listener in the introduction. There's a whole legend to be told around the piece. Fryer does a great job all in all.

Most variations have no tempo marked, we were told, and that the dynamics are mostly open for interpretation as the sequence is written for harpsichord and at times multiple keyboards. We were told about the structure, the chordal arcs, the sets of tunes, Bach's counterpoint mastery, the nature of canons. Bach famously, according to the tale, won a goblet of gold coins for the work.

In the talk we were promised a whole range of musical expression, and Bach certainly delivers the goods. We, an audience of maybe 40, were treated to a beautiful adagio at end of the first half in #15, a jubilant Overture in variation #16, "the Black Pearl" in #25, and a "romp" in the final five, complete with the playful folk-inspired finale.

I found my personal favourites among the last variations of the first half. Variation #13 just falls into place so wonderfully. The last five overall are really something as well: the virtuoso run towards the end more or less straightened everyone up for the final repeat of the aria.

The grand church is a great venue for music — there's much to look at as your ears are bathed in the appropriately heavenly music. The magnificent features of interior grew almost foreboding as the sun set and the church became increasingly dark, perfectly in tune with the music and the evening. Deep shadows in the insightfully lit space, covered in Pre-Raphaelite designs and splendid stonework.

For lovers of music and atmosphere. Maybe dress a little warmer than you would for other Fringe shows.