Kenneth Gilbert's 1986 Harmonia Mundi recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations (using a Hubert Bédard harpsichord) continues to retain its place in the catalog, and now at mid-price makes an excellent bargain. The best qualities of Gilbert's account are its spirit and energy, and (even more pleasing in some ways) its fertile imagination. That's evidenced in his handling of the repeats and in the astonishing range and ingenuity of voicings and dynamic gradations, which helps to ensure that your interest and attention remain focused throughout. Where some interpreters make pretty heavy weather of the work, Gilbert often approaches it with a rare sense of fun and vitality: hear for yourself in Variations 7 or 11. That's not to suggestRead more there's anything flippant that could gloss over the formal mastery and intellectual concentration of these Goldbergs. Gilbert is serious when he needs to be, as in the canons--try the one at the fourth interval (Variation 12), and if you continue listening into the next variation you'll also encounter his flair for poetic fantasy.
Technically, Gilbert's performance is immaculately, amazingly flawless--those electrically fast trills in Variation 21 or the triumphant coruscations of the Toccata of No. 29 make the point amply enough. So if you're seeking a solid and reliable account of Bach's Goldberg Variations, Kenneth Gilbert's makes a superb choice. He complements his fine recording with insightful booklet notes helpfully reproduced by Harmonia Mundi. Highly recommended. [9/19/2001]
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988by Johann Sebastian Bach