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Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (The Historic 1955 Debut Recording) Original recording remastered
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Now, I certainly believe that Landowska's rendition is the most well informed, and even the most revolutionary in terms of true period correctness (she was the first to record it for the harpsichord and with correct baroque ornamentation), and she had a musicality that made the listener believe they were listening to an orchestra instead of just a single keyboardist. Tureck's interpretation is so dancelike and pleasant. It sounds so free and happy, I get the image that there are dancers on the keys of her piano. She was really the one that showed that the Goldberg Variations could be performed on a piano without reverting to the overly romanticized versions that had dominated up to that time.
It was Landowska and Tureck two that allowed for what is arguably the most famous interpretation of the Goldbergs: Glenn Gould's 1955 recording.Read more ›
If you are new to Glenn Gould, just remember that even now, twenty years after his death, his work remains controversial. Everyone agrees that he was a masterful pianist, one of the best ever, but many people just don't like his eccentric approach to Bach. They find the fast parts too fast, and slow is too slow. In the 1981 version, many object to Gould's tuneless humming in the background. Eccentric? You bet. But nobody else could even get away with it. "That nut is a genius," as Szell was once heard to quip.
Anyone who finds Gould too eccentric, or perverse, should try Angela Hewitt or Rosalyn Tureck. I love their versions of Goldberg Variations too! Rosalyn Tureck spent her entire career of about 60 years studying Bach, and recorded Goldberg Variations at least three times. All are excellent. Angela Hewitt is just masterful, and plays with sheer devotion.
Gould made an incisive breakthrough and showed that the formality and the Dionysian spirit may habit together, without those bitter presumptions or austere poses.
He impregnated the Goldberg variations with Mediterranean jubilee, effusiveness and radiant greenness. And this posture influenced a whole generation in all fields.
So those Goldberg carry on its own trademark. A historical reference by all accounts.
Indispensable collection piece.
HOWEVER, if despite my sales pitch you insist on purchasing just the '55 recording, this is the one to get because it's not only remastered, but it also includes two fugues from Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier as a nice bonus. And a modicum of price comparing reveals that this also can be had VERY inexpensively.
I find it hard to fault this performance; Gould the perfectionist was not satisfied with it and would later return to rerecord it. He felt and I agree with him that on some of the parts he played to fast (maybe from the pure enthusiasm of making a first record). One other thing about this album and Gould in general was that he hummed. You will hear him hum on this album, the whole album. But it doesn't really distract you from enjoying the music.
This album is great to play while you are relaxing on a sunny afternoon or having casual conversation and want nice background music. There are some Variations that are played hard, some fast; but the majority is mid tempo and relaxing. Buy this album! Then buy his latter Goldberg Variations and see for yourself why critics debate over which is better.
For the record the 2nd Goldberg Variations was released in 81. He died shortly afterwards in 82. It was his last recording.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Listening to Gould play is like listening to a machine. But a machine with feeling and purity of emotion. Does he ever make a mistake while playing???Published 19 months ago by Xrahdio
I listen to this CD a lot. Very relaxing and great as background music at home or in the car, or upon more attentive listening.Published 24 months ago by KwQd
I love it because I treasure Bach's and Gould's work of art. Of course, I would have liked a better leaflet and better presentation in general but the contents are wonderful and... Read morePublished on June 17, 2013 by Lilianna G.
I love the Goldberg variations and Glen Gould's performance is astounding. This is a classic record that any music lover should own.Published on June 11, 2013 by ACE
This is a flamboyant performance of the Goldberg Variations. They are too fast and occasionally the loudness and softness of the piano is utilized, which is not available on the... Read morePublished on November 8, 2012 by A.M.Y.
The clarity of the performance by Gould is astounding. Gould's touch is light and precise and conjures up the harpsichord for which this music was written.Published on September 22, 2012 by Marina
I share Glenn Gould's own strong dislike for this set of the Goldberg Variations. Gould explains in detail his problems with this recording on the third, bonus interview disc... Read morePublished on August 20, 2011 by T. Fisher