Review By Wayne Donnelly
For the last half century Bach's towering set of keyboard variations played on modern piano has largely "belonged" to the late Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. From his '50s mono recording (still my preferred Gould rendition) to his digital-era remake, Gould's highly idiosyncratic approach has overshadowed competitors with the rcord-buying public. It would not surprise me to learn that his recordings of the Goldbergs have outsold all competitors, regardless of instrument. (Though this is conjecture on my part.)
But this 2005 recording by American pianist Simone Dinnerstein, an artist previously unknown to me, deserves to be heard by even the most fervent Gould fan. While I would characterize her conception as modern rather than scholarly, Ms. Dinnerstein's Goldbergs strike me as having a more consistent flow, with more organically organized tempos and phrasing, than either of Gould's sui generis recordings. I find Dinnerstein's Bach increasingly growing on me with each new hearing.
And it is a pleasure to hear the lovely sound of her Hamburg Steinway, captured in clean, ungimmicked two-channel sound. This recording is far more natural-sounding than either Gould version.
I will always return from time to time for Gould's unique insights into — and revolutionary ideas about — Bach's keyboard music in general and the Goldbergs in particular. But Dinnerstein has definitely earned space on my Bach shelf. I salute Telarc for bringing us this artist, and I am eager to hear more from her.