On May 28th, the fruition of what appears to be a long campaign to completely release Bach’s Goldberg Variations came to fruition. Not only is there an absolutely beautiful (and in many ways extremely competitive) recording of the Goldberg Variations by Kimiko Ishizaka, but also the complete score of the Goldberg Variations is also completed, using the excellent MuseScore. I won’t claim to be an expert on the piece, but I can give a layman’s appraisal of the work. I’ve picked up several recordings of the Goldberg Variations over the years:
- “Goldberg Variations (JS Bach)” by Andreas Almqvist
- “JS Bach Goldberg Variations” by Colin Booth
- “Bach Goldberg Variations” by Janine Johnson
- Bach, J.S.: Goldberg Variations, Bwv 988 by Pi-hsien Chen
- The Art of Glenn Gould by Glenn Gould
- BBC Music, Volume 19, Number 11: Goldberg Variations featuring Freddy Kempf
Two of these albums (Colin Booth and Janine Johnson) are played on the harpsichord, as originally intended. Andreas Almqvist plays them (beautifully) on the acoustic guitar. Pi-hsien Chen’s rendition is very beautiful, if a bot rote, and the selections from Glenn Gould’s 1955 Goldberg Variations recording are, how shall we say, dizzying in their tempo, and a bit distant in their recording.
There’s quite a bit of variety in these recordings, but I have to say my favorite is the Kimiko Ishizaka rendition. First, the recording is top-notch. The soundstage for the piano is amazing. Secondly, the performance is anything but rote. There’s a feeling to the playing that just feels quite alive. With some of these previous albums, I felt quite bored midway, but this recording kept my attention throughout, and (dare i say it) I wanted to hear more when the album finished. Adding the nature of the project (funded via Kickstarter, and released completely under the CC0 license), and you have my undivided attention.
I’d highly recommend downloading a copy of Bach’s Goldberg Variations by Kimiko Ishizawa, if for no other reason than to expose yourself to some utterly high-quality classical music. Then sit back, and realize how much better this music sounds once you know that you can share it with your friends.
Many thanks to everyone involved with this project.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.