CD: Bach: Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould

(Sony Classical)

Glenn Gould's first version of the Goldberg Variations, made in 1955, is one of the imperishable classics of recorded music. I've listened to it many times, never failing to marvel at the brilliance of Gould's technique and the breathtaking variation in his keyboard touch and detailed articulation. Nor have I ever been disturbed by any shortcomings in the recording: the rather dry mono sound has always seemed perfectly appropriate to this approach to playing Bach. But the Zenph "reperformance" of Gould's Goldberg aims to recreate it as a 21st-century state-of-the-art recording. Specially developed software has analysed every note of the original, with all its nuances of touch and dynamics, and then played it back through a computerised grand piano, which has been recorded again with digital technology in both surround sound and binaural stereo; both versions are included on this disc. Gould's famous vocal counterpoints to everything he played have been erased in the process. Some may think it's an improvement, but the whole exercise seems an unnecessary one.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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