How many recordings of the Goldberg Variations does the world need?

April 13

Answer:  As many as it can get (provided they’re good . . .).

It is, surely, one of our towering achievements as a civilization – right up there with the Sistine Chapel, the B Minor Mass, Notre Dame, Paradise Lost, . . . [suggestions for additional items welcome].  That something so tightly constructed – so bound up in its own formal, quasi-mathematical structure – can be so incredibly beautiful is one of the Great Mysteries. If you don’t know the piece, you really should get to know it – and if you do, you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t think you can do much better than starting here.  Yes, it’s my son – and No, that’s really not why I think it’s terrific. I’ve been a little Goldberg-obsessed for many years, and I think I’ve heard most if not all of the commercially-available recordings  (and some not-commercially-available ones as well – how about a bootleg Rudolf Serkin from Vienna in the 1920s!), many of which are quite wonderful – and I think Sam’s version holds up really well, and has its own very interesting things to say about the music; I particularly love the way he gets the “swing” of the dance movements, and you won’t hear a more achingly beautiful version of the final “aria da capo” anywhere.  Plus, his eight little introductory conversations/demonstrations are quite interesting too.  Ten bucks well spent, in my opinion – if you listen all the way through and don’t agree, let me know and I’ll refund your money . . .

David Post taught intellectual property and Internet law at Georgetown Law Center and Temple University Law School until his recent retirement. He is the author of "In Search of Jeffersons Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace" (Oxford, 2009), a Fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute.
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