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Penguin Guide, January 2009

…Naxos have had the even better idea of coupling the 1955 Goldberg set with a stimulating broadcast performance of the G major Partita—a favourite works of Gold’s—dating from the year before. Both transfers are first class. It is also available on Sony in surround sound.

Gramophone, September 2007

And lastly, a 1950s benchmark and a record that forever altered the way we hear Bach's Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould's 1955 CBS recording, elegant and exuberant, a fast-lane excursion that occasionally pauses for thought, very deep thought in the case of the 25th Variation. Naxos's excellent transfer is coupled with a confident Bach G major Partita from the previous year, when in terms of the wider public Gould was still a big event waiting to happen.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2007

Probably no other recorded performance so dramatically polarised critical opinion than Glenn Gould's 1955 account of Bach's Goldberg Variations. The Canadian pianist was 23 at the time and had become besotted with the composer's genius in structuring music and his manipulation of contrapuntal lines that had perfect mathematical rectitude. That was to create the rhythmic exactness that places the performance as an unadorned representation of the printed page shorn of any personal involvement. Tempos were often quick, all repeats - which Gould deemed unnecessary - were omitted, the score truncated to just over 38 minutes in length. If that appears cool and calculating, no one could deny that he believed that this was the view the composer would have wanted. He sang along with his performance, obviously totally immersed in the music he was creating, moments of exquisite beauty sitting alongside technical brilliance. Twenty-six years later he made another version where spaciousness replaced flashing mercurial fingers, and at the same time he disowned this recording. Yet there are many who have remained deeply impressed and still regard it as a wonderful and meaningful statement, the clarity of the playing so crisp that it was a pianist's recreation of the staccato sound produced by keyboards in Bach's time. The coupling here is an equally stylised treatment of the Partita, both works recorded with rather more reverberation than you would have expected Gould to approve.

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