Colin Anderson
November 2020

If, like me, you sometimes feel a little lost amidst the sheer diversity and structural complexity of Johann Sebastian Bach’s (thirty) Goldberg Variations (BWV988)—Aria mit verschiedenen Veränderungen—then, also like me, you may find Pavel Kolesnikov’s reading a revelation.

Over eighty minutes, bookended by a flowing yet tender ‘Aria’, he offers judicious tempos, a variety of touch (piano as celestial harp, piano as crisply enunciating harpsichord) and dynamics, music-serving virtuosity, clarity and concentration, and expansive eloquence—which all adds up to a sublime and exhilarating soul-feeding experience, one to treasure and to return to.

Produced by Andrew Keener, I regard this Hyperion issue as significant—with a strong claim equally on the dedicated Goldberg collector and the listener feeling his/her way through this monumental masterpiece. The recorded sound (from 16-18 December last year), courtesy of David Hinitt, is tangible and transparent, fully responsive to Kolesnikov’s vision (including his well-judged decorations) with just enough of St Silas the Martyr (Kentish Town, London) captured with which to offer an appropriately sacred backcloth.