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Budget Picks, No. 1

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J. S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, A. Schiff
The set of Goldberg Variations contains some of the most beautiful keyboard music J. S. Bach ever wrote. Supreme control of counterpoint and mellifluous melodies: it is all there. The music is so indestructible, so timelessly good that you could play it on the marimba and it would still sound fairly good. Most people prefer the piano, though – even over the harpsichord for which the works were written. Of course Glenn Gould’s recordings are still paramount here - love or hate them. But Schiff brings his felt, sensitive, and immaculate no-nonsense musicianship to the variations in his first recording, a “Penguin Classic.” (He may well have achieved a few more subtle shades and depth in his latest ECM outing, but this one is still very fine, indeed.) Lore has it that these pieces were commissioned as a cure for an insomniac. Well, you might find the music calming your spirits, but you won’t fall asleep.

Decca 02894761659

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