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Goldberg Variations


Extract from Aria | Track 1J S Bach
00:00 / 00:54
Extract from Variation 25 | Track 26J S Bach
00:00 / 00:50
Extract from Variation 29 | Track 30J S Bach
00:00 / 01:10


This work is one of the best-known masterpieces of pre-Classical keyboard music, “composed for music-lovers, to refresh their spirits”.

The Early Music movement has enabled a growing understanding of how the relatively spare notation used in the 18th century assumed a knowledge of performance conventions. Although Bach was more thorough in his use of notation than most of his contemporaries, he still relied heavily on the experience of the performer, and for this reason a literal approach to his scores can sometimes be ill-judged. This CD confronts the listener with things which do not happen in most other recordings.

Track List:

  1. Aria

  2. Variation 1 for one manual

  3. Variation 2 for one manuel

  4. Variation 3: Canon at the unison, for one manual

  5. Variation 4 for one manual

  6. Variation 5 for one manual or two

  7. Variation 6: Canon at the second, for one manual

  8. Variation 7: al tempo di Giga, for one manual or two

  9. Variation 8 for two manuals

  10. Variation 9: Canon at the third, for one manual

  11. Variation 10: Fugetta, for one manual

  12. Variation 11 for two manuals

  13. Variation 12: Canon at the fourth, for one manual

  14. Variation 13 for two manuals

  15. Variation 14: andante, for two manuals

  16. Variation 15: Canon at the fifth, for one manual

  17. Variation 16: Ouverture, for one manual

  18. Variation 17 for two manuals

  19. Variation 18: Canon at the sixth, for one manual

  20. Variation 19 for one manual

  21. Variation 20 for two manuals

  22. Variation 21: Canon at the seventh, for one manual

  23. Variation 22: alla breve, for one manual

  24. Variation 23 for two manuals

  25. Variation 24: Canon at the octave, for one manual

  26. Variation 25: adagio, for two manuals

  27. Variation 26 for two manuals

  28. Variation 27: Canon at the seventh, for two manuals

  29. Variation 28 for two manuals

  30. Variation 29 for one manual or two

  31. Variation 30: Quodlibet, for one manual

  32. Aria


This has clearly been a labour of love and is beautifully recorded on Booth’s own Mietke copy. There is both clarity and warmth in the recording… Booth characterises each variation very carefully… and generally displays a highly intelligent approach to the music which translates into a sense of security and rightness. For me this recording stands out in a crowded field.
Noel O’Regan, Early Music Review, August 2011.

This is a real achievement on Booth’s part; and one to which you will warm on repeated listenings to this CD. So it’s far from being yet another Goldberg Variations release. Booth’s is a significant contribution to the still vibrant debate on historically-informed performance practice. And one which has the merit of producing a highly satisfying and stimulating listening experience.

The general impression one would expect to have from this recording might have been one of scholarly dryness, were it not for Colin Booth’s elegance and style as a performer, and his ability to play Bach’s rhythms with a spring in his step.
Musical Web International, August 2011

Booth takes a lighter approach than some, and he reminds us that complete performances would not originally have been envisaged; indeed he urges us to dwell on individual variations and to use the “repeat button”. A wonderful disc, which we have listened to in whole and in part several times, with great enjoyment.
Peter Grahame Woolf, Musical Pointers, February 2011

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