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on 15 March 2011
I've always admired Schiff's Bach playing. It's fun, confident, and refined at the the same time. In comparison to Hewitt's light, mechanical playing Schiff keeps you engaged through-out. This recording is finer than his earlier more famous version, with the exception of the first prelude (His first is almost too beautiful!)
Like most people I first fell in love with the Golberg's via the hands of Gould, and to be fair everone who loves classical music should have that recording, but it is what it is... and by that I mean it is a young man making a big statement rather than being true to what I think Bach intended(It is a practice peice, but playing it a fast as possible.. would Bach have approved?).

I've heard most of the recordings available of the beloved Goldbergs, but Schiff's ECM recording in my humble opinion is the most whole. It's not perfect by any means, but as good as.
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on 23 August 2015
Staggeringly good, as was Schiff's August 2015 Prom of the same work - transcendent!

Prospective buyers, ignore the one-star reviews out of hand. They are penned by self-evident hacks whose very words condemn them to oblivion. Schiff, not only a great musician but a great human being, is assured of a place in the pantheon. Buy this disc and wonder!
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on 12 May 2011
Goldberg was one of the first classical recordings I owned nearly 40 years ago. It's been a work I've always loved and I particularly like it on Harpsichord. However, I stumbled upon this Schiff piano recording, by accident a while ago, and found his interpretation like a breath of fresh air. It grabbed me like no other version I'd ever heard.

While technically impressive, the Gould versions leave me a little colder than this one does. His vocalisation annoys me as it would if I went to the Cinema and somebody behind talked the whole time. I'm also reminded of an old piano teacher who used to sing and hum notes and mutter timings as I learned.

While I can hear what the critics of this interpretation moan about, I just don't understand how a true classical music lover could be damning about this recording. I sometimes wonder if it's Gould fans upset at Schiff trampling all over the king's lands.

I like the musicality, the technical mastery (I don't hear any unplanned mistakes), the melodic emphasis and the feeling in this recording. It's different from the others. I adore it.
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on 29 October 2003
We have been blessed in the last 12 months with some first-rate recordings of Bach on the modern grand piano. There have been some individualistic partitas from Piotr Anderszewski, some elegant English Suites from Angela Hewitt, more graceful partitas from Richard Goode, and in the last weeks some dazzling keyboard concertos from Murray Perahia. But to my mind, this ECM recording of the Goldbergs by Andras Schiff is the best of the lot. It is, of course, a return to the Goldberg Variations on disc for Schiff, who first recorded them for DECCA some twenty years ago. That recording is good(nominated BBC R3's preferred piano recording on 'Building a Library'), but this one is just magnificent. No one plays Bach better that Schiff: his sense of line, of form, the beautifully pointed rhythms, the subtle differences of colour, articulation between repeats. All that is in Schiff's previous recording too. What the new one has, no doubt in part on account of being a concert recording, is a greater sense of purpose, a cumulative force and a directness that is surely unmatched by most other recordings of this work. Schiff's second Goldbergs are riveting journey. The luminous and radiant piano is captured nicely too. Superlative.
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on 3 June 2013
Everyone that admire and love this 32-pieces work, must know the classic 1955's GG recordings. And I include myself on this team. But I also appreciate to hear different recordings of this referential piano masterwork, not only to make a standalone comparison, but also to feel how different people along the years are playing the Goldberg Variations in different manners from the "GG standard". And once again, Mr Andras Schiff shows us why he is one of the most talented interpreters of J S. Bach. Really touching interpretation and a crispy ECM audio recording, make me give 5-stars to this album.
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on 15 January 2016
Excellent, as it would be with those performers. BUT I had expected a recording of the 2015 Prom performance - had I mis-read the publicity?
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2010
I don't know what the knockers on this page are on about. Andras Schiff plays the Goldbergs without haste, with immaculate changes in tempo and expression, with oceanic musicality. It's not really just an excercise you know.
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on 29 February 2004
A big change from Glen Gould and maybe for the better. Much more sensitive and flexible to the nature of the movements and allows Bach to be human. Worth lots of playing.
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on 19 October 2003
I have several versions of the Goldberg Variations, and this one is ideally suited to the CD era. Just look at the length of it, for a start: 71.11 minutes. Of the others, Glenn Gould's first recording came in at an extraordinary 38.24 mins, but this was pushing the limit of what a 1950s LP could handle. Glenn Gould's second version, releaseed just after his death in the early 1980s, was 51.20 mins long. My least favourite version, on Naxos by Pi-hsien, is 55.08 minutes of muffled, murky piano-playing.
Andras Schiff performed this new version two years ago in front of an exceptionally silent audience in Basel. (No-one appears to cough or fidget at all -- only once in the entire concert did I detect someone dropping something.) The recording certainly has the ambience of the concert hall, but there's not even any applause at the end of the recital. (Contrast this with, say, another ECM label pianist, Keith Jarrett, performing live, where the audience behaves in almost the opposite manner.)
Clearly there is not the sound of each page of music being turned over. I am so new to piano-playing that I am still in awe of anyone who can keep so much music in his head. (That's one of the advantages of recording in the studio!)
As usual with ECM CDs, the packaging is immaculate: detailed notes by Schiff himself, who first recorded this work 20 years ago, and even an acrostic poem on his name by Vikram Seth, author of 'A Suitable Boy'.
Will this CD usurp any of the affection I have for both the Glenn Gould versions? No, they will continue to find a regular place in my CD player -- I just love their eccentricities, and I find their relative brevity easier to cope with. 71 minutes is almost too much music for my mind to handle, but this is a fantastic version. There is none of the mumbled singing that accompanies a Gould or Jarrett piano recording, and I'll just have to get used to the idea that maybe JSB didn't intend a vocal track when he composed the Goldbergs.
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on 8 July 2015
Something different every time you hear it. Great recording. Great pianist. Great piece.
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