- Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9)
Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 is one of his most popular works, though for some it has become over-exposed through numerous interpretations, experimental arrangements, and myriad recordings, so it sometimes seems more like a classical commodity than a meaningful work of art. Yet if one modern performance can restore some of the piece's charm, vitality, and power to move, Andrea Padova's recording on Stradivarius may be the right choice, especially for jaded listeners. Padova's care in shaping phrases and sustaining inner lines contributes to the even flow of the counterpoint, and his attention to the piano's subtle tones and timbres make this one of the most sensitively shaded versions. Each variation is accorded its proper mood, and at every turn Padova produces fresh expressions that provide the right balance of change and continuity, so he maintains a high level of interest throughout. (Although Padova is known as a champion of the music of Ferruccio Busoni, whose piano arrangements of Bach have long been controversial, his performance of Bach's original is surprisingly light and transparent, without a trace of Busoni's heavy handed rewriting or post-Romantic excess.) Stradivarius provides focused sound, so the piano seems reasonably close but loses none of its natural resonance.