Jenö Jandó has been the house pianist for Naxos records for longer than I can remember. He has recorded Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, both books, as well as all the piano sonatas of Beethoven and Mozart, among many others. He seemingly came out of nowhere and soon became a household name, at least in classical-music buying households. More important, in spite of being Naxos's dogsbody pianist the level of his playing has never been less than acceptable, and in many instances it has been absolutely topnotch. That is the case here with his recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. I consider myself to be something of a Goldbergs fanatic. I have upwards of thirty recordings stretching back to Landowska's 1933 set. I love them all--well, mostly all--and if asked what one work I would take to a desert island the Variations would be my pick. That gives you some background for this new recording by Jandó. In a word, it is good enough to nestle in the top rank with those by Gould, Perahia, Tureck, Schiff, Hewitt, Yudina, Koroliov, and Schepkin. This is a fairly straightforward reading. All repeats are taken; discreet ornamentation is used, nothing startling; tempi are well-judged, if a little on the fast side as compared to some.
I tend to quickly assess Goldberg recordings by listening to a number of the sections in fairly short order: Aria, Variation I, III (canon at the unison), VIII (for two manuals), X (fughetta), XVIII (canon at the sixth), XXV (the 'black pearl'), XXVI, the Quodlibet and the final Aria. Jandó passes this quick test on all counts. His 'black pearl' may be a little faster than some but he does convey the despair of this variation. His touch throughout is light, slightly détaché when called for (but much less than Gould's). He can use a seamless legato when necessary (XXV), there is ample dynamic contrast, and an overall sense of the set's architecture (although nobody quite does that as well as Perahia). The recording is in clear sound, the piano sounds to be nicely regulated and it has a lightish, but not shallow, tone.
In short, this is a creditable 'Goldbergs' suitable to sit on the shelf with some of the great ones. And, of course, it is at Naxos's budget price.