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Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 [CD]

J.S. Bach, Angela Hewitt Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: £11.10 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 + Bach: The Six Partitas
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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (1 Mar 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B00004S3B4
  • Other Editions: Paperback
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,932 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Aria
2. Variation 1
3. Variation 2
4. Variation 3
5. Variation 4
6. Variation 5
7. Variation 6
8. Variation 7
9. Variation 8
10. Variation 9
11. Variation 10
12. Variation 11
13. Variation 12
14. Variation 13
15. Variation 14
16. Variation 15
17. Variation 16
18. Variation 17
19. Variation 18
20. Variation 19
See all 32 tracks on this disc

Product Description


The set of variations which Bach wrote for the young virtuoso Goldberg to play to their patron, the Russian ambassador, were intended to be heard either in groups or one at a time. Hewitt's sensitive and intelligent performance is particularly notable for its tact and sense of decorum. The use of piano instead of harpsichord brings a forensic clarity and a plangent sense of the music's emotional content without importing an inappropriate level of drama to the proceedings. She is particularly eloquent in some of the slower variations, such as the intense and private No. 25, but is also highly effective in the sprightlier dance movements, such as No. 19. --Roz Kaveney

Product Description

Variations Goldberg, BWV 988 / Angela Hewitt, piano

Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupendous! 27 Jan 2006
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The background to this recording is a charming one : Hewitt spent three days recording tracks for the album in London. On the final evening she went out for a meal with some friends and then offered to give an impromptu private performance of the "Variations" back at the auditorium. They left the tape running and this was the take that Hyperion used.
One of the true delights of the "Goldberg Variations" is that it yields so many different interpretations. Everybody has their favorite: Gould for his dazzling idiosyncracies and because he produced two very contrasting versions; Schiff and Kempff for their more conventional but still wonderful renditions; Perahia for his amazing filigree touch.
Hewitt's performance on this recording is simply incredible. Just hearing the first few bars of the "Aria" made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Truly great artists can take a work to another level; it's what Argerich did with Liszt's "Sonata in B Minor"; it's what Perahia did with Chopin's "Études" (op. 10 & 25). Hewitt achieves the same milestone with her "Goldbergs". Her perfectly suited dynamics and crystalline articulation are magical, as are the small, personal flourishes that she introuduces into the piece with the sensitivity of a Zen calligrapher (pay particular attention to the seventh variation - sublime). Also worth noting is the quality of the recording itself; the sound engineers really outdid themselves.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars energetic and still crystal clear 21 July 2003
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The BBC played only a few bars in a Saturday morning review, but after more than a decade of faithful adoration of both of Glenn Gould's recordings, I immediately decided to buy this one. Not only is this new recording of amazing clarity, it also is played with impressive determination and force. Everything about this recording seems a conscious decision, a well-planned act. An amazing de-romanticization of Bach, cleaner and more natural than I have ever heard him before. I am now very curious about Hewitt's other recordings...
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning performance beautifully recorded 16 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The Goldberg variations is one of those pieces which lives with you. Until now my favourite recording has been Trevor Pinnock's but Angela Hewitt's new recording transcends it in every way. The piano sounds exactly right, the tempi are thoughtful but totally convincing, I have never heard the inner parts emerge with such clarity and authority. In two months this has become one of my favourite CDs: it is one of the very few I've ever heard which still astonishes me every time I listen to it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great recording 5 Oct 2010
Format:Audio CD
This fantastic disc is now reissued at mid-price Bach: Goldberg Variations as one of thirty "seminal recordings" out of the thousands in their catalogue which have been reissued by Hyperion to celebrate their 30th birthday, and this is certainly belongs among them. If I had to choose just one recording from the whole of Hyperion's superlative catalogue, this would be a very strong contender.

The Goldberg Variations are arguably Bach's greatest keyboard work. They are built on a fabulous technical framework of which the listener is scarcely aware and present us with a sublimely beautiful Aria and thirty amazingly diverse and expressive variations upon its ground bass, and they add up to an exceptionally enjoyable and rewarding musical experience.

There are an awful lot of recordings of the Goldberg Variations - many extremely good - but this is the best I know. Angela Hewitt's excellent discs of Bach have attracted universal acclaim and this, in my view, is the best of them. Her superlative technique and the depth of her scholarship and understanding of Bach form the bedrock, but she also brings fabulous a joy and a lambent beauty to these pieces. As a little example, there is a tiny five-note descending arpeggio in the opening Aria (at about 1'38" if you're interested) which is easy to treat simply as a link between two more important sections, but which absolutely glows in Hewitt's hands and moves me every time I hear it. The performance is full of such lovely details as this, and combined with her impeccable approach to the work as a whole they make this something really special.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graceful Goldbergs 22 Feb 2006
Format:Audio CD
Bach wrote very, very few variation compositions like the "Goldberg Variations," but the one's he wrote are most memorable and monumental. Early in his career, he wrote a magnificant "Aria with Variations in the Italian Manner" (BWV989). Its repeating aria at the end along with the alternating fast/bright and slow/contemplative variations foreshadowed a model in these so-called Goldberg Variations - one of the 'summation works' Bach wrote late in his life while at Leipzig. (Angela Hewitt's spirited recording of this Aria/Variations BVW 989 is on her Hyperion CD: "Fantasy and Fugue in A Minor and Other Works").
With an ever-increasing quiver of splendid recordings of Bach's keyboard music, it is not hard to believe that Angela Hewitt is the top-selling musical artist for the British Hyperion label. And this recording of her personal favorite Golderg Variations is another gem in the series. Angela Hewitt's Goldbergs - and really all her Bach or Couperin in general - may be most simplistically characterized as having a more gentle, graceful and lyrical style. She excells on bringing out the joyful rhythms in the many Baroque-era 'dances' and as well as the inherent songfulness within the music. Her sensitive lines of melody in slower movements like the opening aria have an endearing quality. Her smooth legato line, soulful infusions, intelligent progression and tasteful ornamental touches all combine to create a delightful experience with Bach.
Miss Hewitt is also a master tonal colorist and is not shy to tactfully use the pedals and nuances of the modern piano to create a greater richness in the music - while taking care to avoid blurring her individual lines.
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