Andreas Staier's Goldberg Variations returns Bach's keyboard exercise to his preferred instrument, the harpsichord, after decades of transcriptions for piano, organ, strings, harp, and synthesiser.
Initially, misgivings are aroused by a prickly, heavy-footed "Aria", in which the melody is obfuscated by the prominent resonance of Staier's multi-register Hass copy harpsichord; but once the Variations begin, the rich timbre suits the tempo more aptly, its lingering harmonic drones as charged as a florid piano interpretation. Staier sustains a courtly musical protocol in, for instance, the four-voice Fughetta of "Variation 10", while elsewhere executing the complex hand-crossing of "Variation 5" with a dexterity that presents the piece as part maze, part cascade.
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