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Before he became one of the UK’s leading jazz performers, John Law was a budding concert pianist, who had studied in Vienna with Paul Badura-Skoda. He writes in his CD notes that he still likes to start each day by playing Bach, and has harboured a desire to record the Goldberg Variations for nearly 25 years. Law is a fine technician so his playing is immaculate, and the piano is beautifully recorded; yet by omitting the repeats he perhaps misses a chance to make this a truly characterful performance. Instead, the variations flash past like technical exercises, perfectly executed but seemingly impersonal. Where Law does try to ‘ornament’ Bach is by adding two pieces of ambient music that bookend the variations. This music is based on the same harmony and bass line that underpin the Variations, yet its relevance seems very tenuous and it comes across as a rather puzzling indulgence.

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