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South African Daniel-Ben Pienaar, a professor at London’s Royal Academy, already has a complete cycle of Mozart sonatas for Avie to his credit. His Bach is superbly recorded in a bright and attractive sound that doesn’t tire the ear. He includes some rubato in his playing that is expressive but never distracting. There are hints of being studio-bound (the first variation is bouncy but perhaps not exuberant enough), yet there is more than enough to balance this – try the fluency of Variations V and VIII, the suddenly rich, almost Romantic XXI (‘Canone alla Settima’) or the static beauty of XXI. The fillings are highly imaginative: the Canons (based on the first eight notes of the Goldberg Aria) sound mightily simple after the edifice of BWV 988. The Stölzel is from the Anna Magdalena Notenbuch, where the Goldberg Aria first appeared, and is a charming way to end.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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