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Classical Music

Variations


Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (The Historic 1955 Debut Recording)

Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (The Historic 1955 Debut Recording) Lowest new price: $8.46
Lowest used price: $1.77
Model: 2011230

In the main, sonic differences between Sony Classical's 20-bit remastering of this landmark 1955 recording and its previous incarnation in the CBS Great Performances series (CBS MYK 38479) are subtle rather than striking. Tape hiss is reduced, while ambient studio noise is heightened, bringing Glenn Gould's trademark humming and squeaky chair more into the foreground. One can also perceive slight changes in microphone setups between certain variations. Gould completists, however, will want this Glenn Gould Edition transfer for two fugues recorded in 1957, drastically different from the pianist's perverse remakes 13 years later for his complete Well Tempered Clavier Book II. Any respectable piano collection, however, should include Gould's debut Goldbergs, at any price. --Jed Distler

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Elgar: Enigma Variations

Elgar: Enigma Variations Lowest new price: $8.64
Lowest used price: $6.82
Model: 1991709

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Bach Edition: Complete Works (155 CD Box Set)

Bach Edition: Complete Works (155 CD Box Set) Lowest new price: $224.99
Lowest used price: $159.99

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Salonen - LA Variations · Five Images After Sappho · Mania · Gambit · Giro / Upshaw · Karttunen · L.A. Phil. · London Sinfonietta · Salonen

Salonen - LA Variations · Five Images After Sappho · Mania · Gambit · Giro / Upshaw · Karttunen · L.A. Phil. · London Sinfonietta · Salonen Lowest new price: $14.98
Lowest used price: $7.99

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Brahms: Handel Variations op 24, Six Piano Pieces op 118, Two Rhapsodies op 79 (CBS)

Brahms: Handel Variations op 24, Six Piano Pieces op 118, Two Rhapsodies op 79 (CBS) Lowest new price: $47.99
Lowest used price: $3.54

Emanuel Ax obviously knows exactly what to do with all of this music, but he doesn't do it consistently. He plays the difficult Variations with everything perfectly in place, an amazing pianistic feat in itself. This work has some excitement and grand climaxes built into it, and Ax minimizes them, giving us Brahms sounding politer than the composer may have intended. He obviously does what he does on purpose, since he whips up exciting climaxes in the Rhapsodies. He also plays the late Piano Pieces very beautifully, almost enough reason in itself to buy the disc. But compare what Leon Fleisher does with the Variations (Sony MH2K 63225). --Leslie Gerber

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Bach: Goldberg Variations

Bach: Goldberg Variations Lowest new price: $11.81
Lowest used price: $3.44
Brand: Bach
Model: 3379278

Dinnerstein's Goldberg Variations was recorded in the neoclassic auditorium of the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York in March 2005. The piano she plays, a 1903 Hamburg Steinway model D concert grand, was originally owned by the town council of Hull,

This is destined to be one of the best-remembered and significant classical releases of 2007. Simone (pronounced "See-mo-nuh") Dinnerstein has recently been attracting lots of media attention, from Oprah’s magazine to The New York Times. Within a classical-music circuit increasingly unwilling to take artistic risks, hers has been the rare success story. The 30-something pianist (a former student of Peter Serkin), backing herself, wowed critics with some notable concerts and eventually secured the support of a major label to release a self-produced recording Dinnerstein had made in March 2005. This Telarc account of the Goldberg Variations thus marks her solo debut CD (following some earlier collaborations with cellist Zuill Bailey on the Delos label). For once, the publicity is trying to keep up with the musical achievement--rather than the other way around.

Dinnerstein's seriousness of purpose is immediately obvious from her choice of the Bach masterpiece to make her mark. With the specter of Glenn Gould's own epoch-making 1955 debut playing the same work—not to mention a vast catalog of competing interpretations—Dinnerstein is nothing if not bold. But what's really extraordinary here is the liberating sense she conveys of its not having all been said before—without resorting to tiresome idiosyncrasies to stand apart from the crowd. Her remarkably deliberate way with the opening aria is unusual, to be sure. But it establishes the stakes for what will follow, where Dinnerstein's thoughtfulness and spectacular clarity seem to discover new facets at every turn. Her pianism embraces a prismatic array of touches, whether the feathery lightness of Variation 5, the burbling rhythms of Variation 14, or the tragic weight of the "black pearl" Variation 25. The cumulative effect is exhilarating, intensely moving, and an affirmation of the Goldbergs' infinite variety. --Thomas May

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Brahms: Symphony No. 4 / Haydn Variations / Tragic Overture

Brahms: Symphony No. 4 / Haydn Variations / Tragic Overture Lowest new price: $55.37
Lowest used price: $2.44

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Beethoven: Cello Sonata No.4; Variations

Beethoven: Cello Sonata No.4; Variations Lowest new price: $19.98
Lowest used price: $1.63

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations Lowest new price: $9.10
Lowest used price: $4.89
Model: 1991514

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The Story of Bach in Words and Music

The Story of Bach in Words and Music Lowest new price: $7.05
Lowest used price: $5.40

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