- Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9)
Conductor and harpsichordist for the London Baroque, Steven Devine takes an exciting solo turn in his recording of J.S. Bach's "Goldberg Variations, BWV 988," giving the classic set a robust interpretation on this 2011 Chaconne release. Performing on a modern harpsichord, built and maintained by Colin Booth, Devine presents the music in a period tuning (A=415 Hz) and delivers it with historically appropriate ornamentation and rhythmic inflections. What is striking about this set of "Goldbergs" isn't any stylistic innovation or scholarly insight, which must be second nature to this esteemed musician, but Devine's presentation is so direct, bright, and energetic, it sustains interest all the way through and holds the variations together on the strength of his vitality. Since there are many performances of the "Goldberg Variations" to choose from, played on harpsichord or piano, adding one more to the marketplace is risky for the label. But Devine's recording has sufficient artistic merit to hold its own against many competitors, and the attractiveness of this CD will certainly win it many fans. The 24-bit recording puts the listener quite close to the instrument, so the sound is perfectly clear, and even the vibrations of the strings can be felt. Highly recommended.