I was initially somewhat skeptical of this recording, and bought it mainly because I had read that it was a romanticized Goldberg, with a lot more rubato than normal (normally there is none). This made it an interesting buy, as it is always entertaining to watch accidents in the making. But I found no accidents here, only the sheer delight of a young prodigy putting a fresh spin on an old masterpiece. I suppose you could say that Lim introduces a fair amount of rubato into the work, mainly on the slower variations, but it is far less than I had been led to believe. Nevertheless, in those spots where he does introduce it, he injects a refreshing lyricism into the work, which provides an excellent contrast to the faster variations.
The variations are played effortlessly, and with a rather quick tempo, but not hurriedly. Maybe this is a subjective judgment, but there seems to be a certain plucky confidence to his playing, but not over-confidence. This is a fresh and effortless performance; there is no hesitation or tentativeness present anywhere. Listening carefully, one can even hear him beginning the next variation almost before he has let up on the final chord of the previous one, in several places. This is barely perceptible, but if you listen, you will see what I mean. My first impression was incredulity. But, amazingly, it works, and it lends greater flow and movement to the work.
The Chaconne is an additional delight. It is beautiful and introspective. The Chaconne even eclipses the Variations, giving the disc a rather darker, moodier atmosphere. I can sense that the Chaconne will easily become the main attraction on this disc for most listeners.
I recommend this to anyone looking for an original and exhuberant version of the Goldberg Variations.