For pianists, Johann Sebastian Bach’s breathtakingly intricate Goldberg Variations is an exercise in technical skill and nimble fingers. For listeners, the 30 two- or three-minute variations are pure pleasure. Lots of virtuosos have tried to put their own stamp on this classic — most famously Glenn Gould with his 1955 debut — but now we have a new musician who convincingly claims it as her own: 34-year-old Juilliard-trained Brooklyn mom Simone Dinnerstein.
Dinnerstein’s self-produced recording is a marvel of perfectly blended precision and emotion. While every note is clear and sure, so too is the sentiment behind each keystroke: wistful, longing, playful, bold — as many distinct feelings as there are variations. The music is awe-inspiring (check out number five for sheer pianism wizardry), and reminds us that when in doubt, always go back to the classics.
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