Friday 10 July 2020

Remarkable double: after 20 years performing it, Lang Lang takes Bach's Goldberg Variations into the studio

The pianist Lang Lang first performed Bach's Goldberg Variations when he was 17, performing from memory for conductor and pianist Christoph Eschenbach. Lang Lang is now 38, and has decided that finally the time is right to take Goldberg Variations into the studio, after over 20 years of living with the work, and talking about it to specialists such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Andreas Steier.

In March this year, Lang Lang performed the work in concert in the Thomaskirche (where Bach worked) and then went into the studio. The result is a remarkable double album, a live recording of Goldberg Variations from the Thomaskirche, recorded in a single take, and a studio recording of the work created shortly after the live performance.

Unusually, Bach's Goldberg Variations were published during his lifetime as Clavier Ubung, the fourth such volume given that name. The work is one of a number of large-scale summation works that Bach produced late in life, and sits alongside his Mass in B Minor and The Art of Fugue as a contemplative summation of his art.

Lang Lang's Goldberg Variations is out on Deutsche Grammophon in September.

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