J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Goldberg Variations

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Wanda Landowska
Individual Works:Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Italian Concerto, BWV 791
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:EMI
Catalog Number:CDH 7 61008 2
Year Released/Recorded:1933
Total Playing Time:71:52
For someone brought up on the Glenn Gould recording, this is a real ear-opener (nearly three times as long!). Stately, delicate, slow, and distant. I am not sure that I would recommend this as a first recording, but it would provide a fascinating contrast to a more modern recording already in one's collection.

This historic 1933 recording of the Goldbergs by the great harpsichordist Wanda Landowska is the first ever to be recorded. Under her, the set of variations sounds hauntingly charming, but the playing is not flawless. The digital transfer did not manage to reduce the background noise level. As a result, the harpsichord loses its brilliance and sounds muffled. This CD comes generously with the Italian Concerto and the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Sarah Trombley
  • Freddie Sng
Date First Submitted:11/29/1995