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Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (The Historic 1955 Debut Recording) Original recording remastered

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, October 27, 1992
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (The Historic 1955 Debut Recording)
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  • Plays Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Books I & II
Total price: $40.50
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the main, sonic differences between Sony Classical's 20-bit remastering of this landmark 1955 recording and its previous incarnation in the CBS Great Performances series (CBS MYK 38479) are subtle rather than striking. Tape hiss is reduced, while ambient studio noise is heightened, bringing Glenn Gould's trademark humming and squeaky chair more into the foreground. One can also perceive slight changes in microphone setups between certain variations. Gould completists, however, will want this Glenn Gould Edition transfer for two fugues recorded in 1957, drastically different from the pianist's perverse remakes 13 years later for his complete Well Tempered Clavier Book II. Any respectable piano collection, however, should include Gould's debut Goldbergs, at any price. --Jed Distler

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Goldberg Variations: Aria
  2. Goldberg Variations: Variation 1
  3. Goldberg Variations: Variation 2
  4. Goldberg Variations: Variation 3
  5. Goldberg Variations: Variation 4
  6. Goldberg Variations: Variation 5
  7. Goldberg Variations: Variation 6
  8. Goldberg Variations: Variation 7
  9. Goldberg Variations: Variation 8
  10. Goldberg Variations: Variation 9
  11. Goldberg Variations: Variation 10
  12. Goldberg Variations: Variation 11
  13. Goldberg Variations: Variation 12
  14. Goldberg Variations: Variation 13
  15. Goldberg Variations: Variation 14
  16. Goldberg Variations: Variation 15
  17. Goldberg Variations: Variation 16
  18. Goldberg Variations: Variation 17
  19. Goldberg Variations: Variation 18
  20. Goldberg Variations: Variation 19
  21. Goldberg Variations: Variation 20
  22. Goldberg Variations: Variation 21
  23. Goldberg Variations: Variation 22
  24. Goldberg Variations: Variation 23
  25. Goldberg Variations: Variation 24
  26. Goldberg Variations: Variation 25
  27. Goldberg Variations: Variation 26
  28. Goldberg Variations: Variation 27
  29. Goldberg Variations: Variation 28
  30. Goldberg Variations: Variation 29
  31. Goldberg Variations: Variation 30
  32. Goldberg Variations: Aria da capo
  33. Fugue In F-Sharp Minor
  34. Fugue In E Major

Product Details

  • Performer: Glenn Gould
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (October 27, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • ASIN: B0000028NE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,532 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Paul K. Stadden on April 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD
There are three people who are responsible for the "resurrection" of the Goldberg variations, at least as far as the general publicis concerned: Wanda Landoska, Rosalyn Tureck, and Glenn Gould. Without them, the Goldberg Variations certainly would not get the attention they do, and may have ended up a curiosity music students discover on budget labels by performers seeking overblown and romantic interpetations or sterile "period correct" (in other words, uninformed) performances that leave listeners yawning. Instead, thanks to those three, the Goldberg is as well know even to the casual music listener as Beethoven's Pathetique or Mozart's Rondo a la Turka are.

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.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Contrarian on March 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I love both of Glenn Gould's versions of Goldberg Variations, the first in 1955 (this one) made him famous, while the last one in 1981 was his swan song. The 1981 version definitely has the fuller modern sound and Gould goes deeper, yet 1955 is historic, the sound is still excellent, and Gould's technique is just amazing! However, this particular packaging includes more than Goldberg Variations. Two fugues from Well Tempered Clavier are added to the end. Good music definitely, but personally, I just want the Goldberg Variations with no additives. If you don't object to the extras, then by all means get this CD. But if you are like me, look for the older "Great Performances" version by CBS/Columbia. It has only Goldberg Variations, with no fugues.
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.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela HALL OF FAME on February 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
These Goldberg formally inaugurated the auspicious debut of this well famed pianist. Until that time Bach was played with such impeccable austerity and intellectuality that literally became a shock to listen a very young man -23- challenging all the musical conventionalisms and old precepts which turned around the conceptual steadiness and serious formalism at the moment to play Bach at the piano.

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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As can be inferred from my title, I generally recommend purchasing A State of Wonder because it includes the best recordings of both Goldbergs plus the bonus interview CD for cheap (particularly if, like me, you're inclined to bargain hunt).
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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By the Chad on July 4, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This cd is considered to be the best version of the Goldberg Variations. There never has been (or maybe never will be)a person who could better translate Bach than Glenn Gould. Glenn was a musical genius; he did things on the piano that even awed his peers. Nobody had better mechanics on the piano than this gentleman. Even outside of Bach he was incredible with the classic period of music. He did struggle a bit though with the romantic era; an era that involved more feeling and less structure than the Bach time period.
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.
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Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (The Historic 1955 Debut Recording)
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