J.S. Bach: 'Goldberg' Variations BWV 988
Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
If you could point to one thing that diffused the momentum of Mahan Esfahani's performance of the Goldberg Variations, it was the pause between each variation. Rather than treating this greatest of keyboard works as a single whole, with every variation growing organically from what preceded it, each variation was treated as its own entity. It came off as a pedantic choice that did little for his performance but kill the cumulative momentum.
Still, it's difficult to find fault otherwise. Mahan Esfahani is an Iranian emigre harpsichordist who has adopted America as his homeland. His playing is full of exceptional technique and brio. His performance was full of the types of effects that can make your hair stand on your head and he phrases with exceptional imagination. Shame about those pauses.