Bach: Goldberg Variations
French harpsichordist Jean Rondeau’s interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations is conceived on an epic scale, lasting 107 minutes as opposed to a usual 73-80. But this isn’t a case of Rondeau just playing everything slowly. Instead, he takes every repeat—including one in the closing reprise of the aria—and adds numerous embellishments (not to mention a huge gap between Variations XV and XVI). Everything here speaks of deep consideration and concert experience before he went into the studio. There is, too, impressive playing: “Variation XIII” unfurls like an operatic aria, “Variation XX” sparkles as dialogue, and the so-called “Black Pearl” (“Variation XXV”) is spun out to great effect.