Pianist Lars Vogt presents one of the classic works of the Baroque repertoire – Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685–1750) famous Goldberg Variations. Originally written for the harpsichord the Goldberg Variations, published in 1741, embody an Aria with 30 variations and a coda. Bach wrote the work for Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who, as the narrative says, often played music as a cure for Count Kaiserling’s insomnia. Apparently the work was one of the successes that Bach had during his lifetime and it was also published during his lifetime.
A peerless conception and realization of Bach's Goldberg Variations. Perhaps the most telling aspect of listening to Perahia's recording for me is that when it is finished, I want to start again at the beginning. It is as if a "world" is contained in this piece, and I am reluctant to leave it.
The Goldberg Variations stands as one of the greatest keyboard works ever written. Composed for a two-manual harpsichord, its universal musical language and distinct voicing has made it a popular subject for arrangement, including those for two pianos by Joseph Rheinberger, for woodwind quartet by Andrei Eshpai, for organ by Jean Guillou, and for solo guitar by József Eötvös, as well as the brilliantly re-imagined Gilded Goldbergs by Robin Holloway.
Wanda Landowska brought the Goldbergs out of hiding on the harpsichord in the '40s and Glenn Gould made them a bonafide hit on the piano in the '50s, opening the floodgates for keyboardists of all stripes. So, in one of his earlier recorded voyages into the classical world, Keith Jarrett is up against an imposing legacy as he tackles what has become the most famous set of variations in Western music. First, he chooses to play them on a double-manual harpsichord – which makes the task somewhat easier, avoiding the finger-tangling cross hand difficulties that can trip up a piano performance.
Dantone interpretation is easily one of the best I have heard in recent years, and I consider it among the elite harpsichord recordings of the Goldbergs in the catalogs. His interpretations feature a compelling mix of power/energy, rhythmic lift, sharply etched phrasing, poignant refrains, playful episodes, bleak terrains and totally satisfying conversations from Bach's contrapuntal musical lines. I think it is fair to say that Dantone gives us the full measure of Bach's soundworld in excellent sonics that are crisp as well as well as abundantly rich.