I researched quite extensively online to find my preferred recording of the Goldberg Variations on the piano (I wanted more dynamics than a harpsichord gives), listening to preview clips not only on Amazon but on certain other sites that have preview clips for various recordings that Amazon doesn't support in that way. I eventually came down to the performance by Jeremy Denk. I wanted a performance that brought out the inherent expressiveness in Bach's music without intruding significantly the performer's own self-expression or attention-seeking as most professional performers appear to me do do. Denk appeared to succeed admirably, bringing out phrasing and contrapuntal lines, keeping things moving, not going into self-indulgent 'dreamy' mode, and bringing out a delightful spring-like lightness and playfulness in the work - yet nowhere lacking in the Goldberg's often haunting 'poetry'. I bookmarked that for future purchase.
Then, a little while later I was poking around in YouTube for something or other of Bach, and in the recommendations sidebar Evgeni Koroliov popped up, playing other Bach mega-works that I was interested in, plus the Goldberg. Although Koroliov's appearance while playing suggested to me yet another over-indulgent rendition, I was very impressed with his command and intuitive control, in bringing out the best of the work. In some but certainly not all variations he played a bit less fast than Denk, and I felt that his performance could be more satisfying because of its having rather more periods of repose interspersing the really virtuosic variations.
So, when I came round to make a purchase, I then bought - no, not what you'd probably expect, but BOTH recordings! They appeared both to be excellent within my own terms of reference, but still gave different angles on the work.
However, when I played the CDs right through I found that Koroliov had intruded a decidedly depressive sort of personal indulgence in his rendition of the returned Aria at the end, which really quite soured the effect of his otherwise excellent performance. Denk, on the other hand, provides joyful uplift right through.
Yes, I would actually prefer that Denk had taken a few variations just a little slower, to give more sense of repose between the really virtuosic numbers, but nonetheless this is for me the really outstanding performance of all piano versions that I've yet heard. I love the way he brings out so many nuances of phrasing even in really hectic variations, always bringing out interest in the melodic lines as well as applying larger-scale dynamic shaping - yet he brings out far too much 'poetry' for his rendition to seem too hectic. I would so much like to hear him performing the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Art of Fugue, and - dare I say it? - The Musical Offering (i.e., arranged for two or even three pianos, presumably with additional pianists, but with Denk directing the performance).