I love Bach's music, and generally insist on two things; firstly, that it is played a little slower than we are generally served it; and secondly that it is played on the instruments it was written for. When I first heard Glenn Gould's 1981 recording, I realised how ridiculous that second requirement was, and how important that first requirement was. The music on this album just swept me away. There is no other recording of the Goldberg Variations that I've listened to that even comes close to it.
The technical mastery of Gould goes without saying, but what really struck me with this recording was the spirit with which this music is played - the feeling which Gould breathes into the work. This is most evident in the slower pieces, particularly the opening Aria, which take you on a journey of the most exquisite emotions. In almost every variation, Gould picks you up and takes you where he is going with it.
I lack the words to describe it - words ike "subliminal", "instropective" come to mind, and above all "human". Bach can be played very mechanically, but not here. Complimented by Gould's ghostly humming, occasionally rising to the level of audibility, Aria, and Canone della Quinta sound like they come straight from the soul. This music lifts you into another world.
Not once does he use the pedals.
This is just mind-blowing - buy it!