by Jarrett Hoffman
It wasn’t unexpected that Bach and jazz improvisation went back and forth. After all, Dan Tepfer is known for not only playing the Goldbergs, but also using the work’s thirty variations as a jumping-off point into his own spontaneity. In this case, for a pre-recorded recital that debuted on April 18 on the Tri-C Classical Piano Series, he limited himself to the aria and the nine canons.
What was unexpected came after that ninth canon and ninth improvisation. Here Tepfer transitioned into free improv, then tied that off in just such a way to set up a seamless reentry into Bach — specifically that aria that opens and closes the Goldbergs, heard here in an especially heavenly form. The only way I can describe that ingenious maneuver, which brought this special journey full circle, is that it felt like Tepfer had stabbed you in the heart, in a good way.