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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 22 July 2001
I own 6 versions of the Goldberg Variations and this is the one I listen to now - it is about as perfect a combination of technique and inspiration as anyone could ever create - it is another step forward from Murray's other Bach recordings, themselves oustanding - even those hooked on Glen Gould will go for this one
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on 24 May 2002
I bought this after hearing an extract on the radio. I already had the Glen Gould recording and had enjoyed it but not really listened to it very often. When I got my hands on the Murray Perahia recording I think I must have listened to it every day for three weeks. Perahia acheives wonderful clarity and precision. Listening to him play this wonderful music is pure pleasure. Certainly my favourite Bach recording and one of my all-time favourite recordings of any kind.
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on 27 December 2000
I always felt that I was missing the point in these variations. Intellectually challenging, brilliantly constructed but not much fun to listen to.
Thus I was stunned by this CD. Perahia's English Suites were wonderful but this is the most enjoyable Goldberg on CD. I hesitate to call it the greatest, there are lots of other very valid views of this piece but fine (and amazingly different) as Gould and Rousset are I doubt that I shall be listening to them very often .
For me Perahia has opened up a magic casement and I want him to keep on recording Bach- Partitas please
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on 24 September 2003
I have to say that for me, there is J S Bach, and then there is every other composer. When I play my viola for recreation, the only composer I play is J S Bach. The point is that I am a serious admirer of Bach, and have some first-hand experience of how his music works. This album is one of the best examples I have encountered of his non-organ keyboard music being played with the exact balance of heart, soul, and intellect which J S Bach demands. Anyone who complains that J S is to cerebral should listen to this interpretation. Highly recommended. If you enjoy this, try the Deutsche Grammephone Gesellshaft recording of the Bach Suites for Cello Solo performed by Pierre Fournier.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 15 January 2011
A while back I did some intensive comparative listening to various recordings of the Goldbergs in the company of a professional musician/composer/keyboard performer friend. I wanted to try to ensure that the perceptions of my educated but essentially amateur ears were tempered by measurement against a more rigorous and informed judgment. Reassuringly, our conclusions were remarkably similar: we agreed that this performance was our clear favourite alongside the more idiosyncratic interpretations of Glenn Gould. However, both Gould's recordings - the marvellously frenetic and unstuffy 1955 version and the more reposeful and even mystical account from 1981 - might perhaps be considered more as fancy-dress for party-going rather than everyday wear and as much as I would not want to be without either of those life-affirming discs, Perahia's account is the one to live with.

The Goldbergs are one of those Mt Bach peaks in a range of solo instrument mountains: the Cello Suites, the Well-tempered Clavier and the Violin Sonatas and Partitas. Responses to them and opinions concerning how they should be performed are necessarily personal but I find it hard to accept that a product of the Baroque, an artistic movement characterised by emotional extremes and excess, should require a performer to play safe and avoid "Romantic" touches. Bach evidently expected exponents of his music to elaborate and embellish the repeats, making judicious use of decoration and rubato - both within the bar and within the phrase - to enliven them. Perahia extends these variations to 75 minutes by observation of those repeats and it would be absurd if he did not invest them with a variety and colour which some period purists apparently find objectionable.

We agreed in our listening session that Schiff was, well, just plain dull and correct. High-priestess Rosalyn Tureck was just that: hieratic and self-conscious in the ritualised way she plays. Neither celebrated artist brings the same joie de vivre evinced by Gould and Perahia; their reverential interpretations are for the listener the equivalent of viewing the Goldbergs as a museum piece through a glass case rather than experiencing the music as a thrilling spritual journey which ends in the repose of the transcendent "still point" provided by Bach's return to the arietta with which he opened the work.

The sound engineering is the finest for a piano recording that I know. Some reviewers complain that we can hear Perahia's fingernails clicking on the keys, which I take more to be testament to the clarity of the recording. I have news for them: people have fingernails, pianists are people - live with it. Next they'll be complaining about singers' breathing.

No; Perahia's interpretation is not "safe"; it's life-enhancing, from his filigree prestidigitation in fast movements, to the wise and humane contemplation in the "Black Pearl" variation, to the grace of his phrasing and the subtlety of his pedalling, this is a clear first recommendation.
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on 10 May 2006
I love the Goldbergs, but never really heard them (and that includes the incomparable Gould) until I heard this. You will never tire of it. One problem: you cannot ignore it when it's on, so don't plan to listen while doing anything else!
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on 6 January 2002
The previous reviewers of this work are spot on - I am a new listener to classical music and was guided toward Murray Perahia's Goldberg variations by my grandfather. I find myself listening to it again and again to sample the flow and clarity of the notes one more time. Fantastic!
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on 23 January 2009
Once again, my thanks to the reviewers who have led me to purchase this. I've come late to the piano and to Bach. After mixed feelings about Glenn Gould, I found Perahia and I feel as if I have come home. The sheer intelligence and technical excellence of the playing are absolutely wonderful. Listening to this it is possible to feel, however briefly, that there is some purpose to it all. I cannot believe that anyone would not be a better person for listening to this.
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on 11 March 2015
I wish to explain 'revisiting': I have recently written a review on a rendition of Goldberg Variations with Angela Hewitt. At the time and for reasons of comparison, I had listened to all three renditions of the music I have in my CD collection which in addition to Angela Hewitt's includes Murray Perahia's and Andrass Schiff's. In the review while highly praising Hewitt's, I mentioned that Perahia's rendition was also exemplary.

'Revisiting' has the meaning that I listened again to Perahia's rendition but this time with the sole purpose of writing a review of it.

I have to acknowledge that listening to Perahia's for a second time in a short time span made me to love it even more. This is hardly surprising: because the Goldberg Variations are wonderfully varied, colorful and emotionally differentiated pieces and for this reason, one cannot possibly grasp in a single listening all the subtleties and nuances of this immensely varied, joyous, and fulfilling masterpiece.

Would I venture an amateur ranking? Personally, I would give Perahia's the edge, with Hewitt's a close second, and Schiff's a distant third.
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This is an excellent interpretation of The Goldberg Variations. Murray Perahia is one of the truly great pianists of his generation and his Mozart in particular is quite brilliant. I have not always been wholly convinced by some of his Bach recordings, but this is a wonderful disc. His technical perfection means that the lines blend beautifully while remaining crystal clear, he has a real affinity with and understanding of the music, and he makes his piano sing with a marvellous sweetness in all the right places.

At this level of technique and musicianship it is a matter of personal taste which version one likes best - a choice of tempo, perhaps, a nuance of rubato or a subtle difference in ornamentation, for example, may make one version speak to you a little more personally than another. For what it's worth, my favourite remains - just - Angela Hewitt's recording for Hyperion Bach: Goldberg Variations, but if I were cast away on a Desert Island with only Perahia's version I would still be very happy.

In short, this is a superb interpretation with excellent recorded sound, attractive packaging and interesting notes. I really don't think you can go wrong with this disc and I recommend it very warmly.
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