Alexandre Tharaud is a fabulous pianist. I own and love his recordings of Scarlatti, Couperin, Rameau and others, and I also love his Bach keyboard concertos. I was looking forward to his interpretation of the Goldberg Variations very much, but I'm afraid I'm a little disappointed.
The Goldbergs form a magnificent, varied work and it's one which I love but I am very aware that I am just a thoroughly amateur listener, so my criticisms may be just personal and even misguided, but for me this recording doesn't quite capture the essence of the Goldbergs or, in places, of Bach. The essential pulse of Bach seems to falter in places – in parts of both the sublime, slow opening Aria and in the more dancing Variation VII, for example – and there isn't quite the sense of flow the pieces need. In the very heart of the recording, Variation XV's sequence of trills seem a little forced to me, and Variation XVI lacks that sense of searching and mystery which it seems to me to hold. And so on.
Others may disagree – I rather hope they do, in fact – but this isn't a very successful recording for me. This is a personal sense rather than anything I can analyse technically, but it is my honest response after trying quite hard to like it. For Goldberg Variations on the piano I'll be sticking to Angela Hewitt's sublime recording, and I'm afraid I can't see this getting many outings on my CD player.