2007 has been a banner year for Goldbergs; no less than five recorded versions of the piece had appeared by the end of July, including a digitally reinterpreted incarnation of Glenn Gould's famous 1955 recording and Wilhelm Middelschulte's bizarre, psychedelic 1924 transcription of the work for organ. In the face of such circumstances, no one would blame music critics for throwing up their hands and saying something like "enough already!" Nevertheless, thankfully the Goldberg Variations is not that kind of a piece, its appeal is both immutable and universal.
The young pianist who blew everyone away at the GRAMMYs recorded Bach's Goldberg Variations as label debut. The Korean-born, US-trained pianist known simply as Ji is very much a classical musician for the 21st century. Having won the New York Philharmonic’s Young Artists Competition at the age of just 10, he went on to study at the prestigious Juilliard School. Described by the Chicago Tribune as “a gifted, sensitive young pianist who is clearly going places,” he has chosen Bach’s sublime Goldberg Variations for his debut on Warner Classics. “Classical music is never going away,” he says, “We live in very modern world, and it’s our job to live in the moment, but it’s also our job to respect and preserve tradition.”
Renowned for her exquisite interpretations of the keyboard masterpieces of Johann Sebastian Bach, Angela Hewitt has recorded several of his works for Hyperion not just once, but twice. Hewitt's 1999 recording of the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 was enthusiastically received and reinforced her status as a leading artist with the label. This 2015 recording, like her return visit to Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, shows not so much a change in her overall approach but a thoughtful reappraisal of the finer points of touch, ornamentation, articulation, dynamics, timbre, and phrasing, which the space of 16 years has afforded her.