New Music Friday: Víkingur Ólafsson releases Bach's Goldberg Variations

06 October 2023
By Ellie Palmer
'Goldberg Variations' is out now on all major streaming platforms

Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has today released his brand new album of Bach's famous Goldberg Variations on Deutsche Grammophon.

The Icelandic pianist has also announced he will devote entire next season to performing the Goldberg Variations with a global tour across six continents.

The album follows Ólafsson’s hugely successful Deutsche Grammophon recording of works by the composer, Johann Sebastian Bach (2018), which won BBC Music magazine’s Album of the Year, Opus Klassik’s Solo Recital award, numerous other recording of the year accolades and led to him being named Gramophone magazine’s Artist of the Year.

Now, Ólafsson brings his unique musical vision and an affecting, meticulous recorded sound to Bach’s masterpiece.

Ólafsson dedicates his 2023-24 season to a Goldberg Variations world tour, performing the work across six continents throughout the year. He brings Bach’s masterpiece to major concert halls including London’s Southbank Centre, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus, Philharmonie de Paris, Philharmonie Berlin, Harpa Concert Hall, LA’s Walt Disney Hall, Sala São Paulo, Sydney Opera House, Shanghai Symphony Hall, Tonhalle Zurich, KKL Luzern, Alte Oper Frankfurt and Mupa Budapest, with other dates to be announced.

Ólafsson comments, “I have dreamed of recording this work for 25 years!"

"The Goldberg Variations contain some of the most virtuosic keyboard music ever written, some of the most astonishingly brilliant uses of counterpoint in the repertoire and countless instances of exalted poetry, abstract contemplation and deep pathos – all within immaculately shaped structures of formal perfection," he continues.

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"In 30 variations, built on the humble harmonic framework of a simple, graceful aria, Bach turns limited material into boundless variety like no one before or since. He is the greatest keyboard virtuoso of his time.”

You can stream the full album on Spotify below.