Bach: Goldberg Variations

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Bach: Goldberg Variations
Víkingur Ólafsson (piano)

[ Deutsche Grammophon / CD ]

Release Date: Friday 20 October 2023

Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has made a profound impact with his remarkable combination of highest level musicianship and visionary programmes. His recordings for Deutsche Grammophon - Philip Glass Piano Works (2017), Johann Sebastian Bach (2018), Debussy Rameau (2020), Mozart & Contemporaries (2021) and From Afar (2022) - have captured the public and critical imagination. In October 2023, Ólafsson releases his anticipated new album on Deutsche Grammophon of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations. Ólafsson has dedicated his entire 2023-24 season to a Goldberg Variations world tour, performing the work across six continents throughout the year. He brings Bach's masterpiece to major concert halls including London's Southbank Centre, New York's Carnegie Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus, Philharmonie de Paris, Tokyo's Suntory Hall, Harpa Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, Walt Disney Hall, Sala São Paulo, Shanghai Symphony Hall, Tonhalle Zurich, Philharmonie Berlin, Mupa Budapest, KKL Luzern and Alte Oper Frankfurt, to name a few.

"Ólafsson's phrasing is so graceful, his articulation playful yet exact. The effect is utterly beguiling...If any quality dominates the interpretation of this keyboard masterwork, I'd say it was Ólafsson's highlighting of Bach's good humour as the theme is ingeniously twisted this way and that. This really is a refreshing release." - The Times

"That it's taken a quarter century or so for Ólafsson to get here speaks to his seriousness and humility. And it's those qualities - along with, it has to be said, an impish playfulness - which stand out here. Indeed, anything Ólafsson does is never less than interesting" LimelIght Magazine

"Ólafsson's Goldbergs begin by passing a big test: he doesn't moon over the Aria, but just plays it. And then he piles one triumph on top of another. He can bring out the structural logic of the most virtuosic variations by throwing tiny spotlights over shifts in harmony at gravity-defying speed...So I'll go out on a limb and say that the Goldberg crown has settled on a new head." Spectator

"Ólafsson keeps ornamentation to a minimum, and his articulation is clean throughout the work. At times he seems to rush the tempo, and even sprints out of the gate in a number of the variations. But this could be forgiven as his way of highlighting the brilliance of Bach's counterpoint.
In sum, the pianist highlights the fact that there are many interpretations to be had of the Goldbergs; this one has a beguiling playfulness." Tara Jahn-Werner (Marbecks customer)

Víkingur Ólafsson - J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Var. 18