on October 28, 2003
This performance is truly awe-inspiring. Anyone familiar with Gould will know what to expect with the mighty, graceful, challenging Goldberg Variations in his capable hands. If you enjoy listening to Bach you really must purchase this album.
If you are not familiar with this music or performer then GET familiar with them. The music itself is quite beautiful with a series of variations on a basic harmonic progression (series of chords essentially). However, the endless invention Bach displays in each brilliant section is masterful. The famous "black pearl" variation near the end is quite dark and contrasts greatly with the other pieces. This is very fine keyboard music.
Glenn Gould performs Bach's keyboard music on the piano. Most of these works are generally accepted to have been written for performance on harpsichord or clavichord because of the prominence of those instruments in Bach's day. However, it would be easy to argue that Bach would have no problem with their performance on ANY instrument as transcription, the process of arranging music for an instrument or voice different from the original, was widely practiced in Bach's day.
Gould soars through these pieces at a pace some find too hectic. I would rather that they were somewhat slower but it does not spoil my listening experience. I do not believe I've heard another pianist effectively give fair play to each voice in Bach's standard contrapuntal texture in the same way Gould did. My only concern is with the recording quality. These variations were recorded nearly 50 years ago. Without this knowledge, one could guess closely based on the tape noise. I knock of a star for this but still strongly urge any Bach fan or classical piano fan to pick this one. The cd has been bargain-priced for some time. Take advantage of that fact.