This expansive eighty-seven-minute account of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (‘Aria mit verschiedenen Veränderungen’, BWV988), finds David Fray in sparkling and searching form for the thirty ‘diverse variations’ on the opening ‘Aria’. The latter he makes trance-like, aided by a spacious although not obfuscating acoustic, immediately sucking the listener into a dreamworld to be syncopated out of with the first commentary, and in the early stages of the work there is a real sense of continuity, of each variation belonging, although maybe this is contrary to Bach’s intended ‘diverse’. In slower numbers Fray is meltingly lyrical, caressing the lines, suspending time, ruminating on big issues/offering solace to them – a brand of hypnotism that is very effective, as is Fray’s rhetoric and his personal stance, a considered individuality that illuminates the music compellingly without intruding into it. When the ‘Aria’ returns full-circle we are returned to the arms of Morpheus having had a great adventure. Quite how Fray’s interpretation fits into the Goldberg discography I wouldn’t like to say – I don’t know enough versions – but, certainly, on its own terms, I found it persuasive and stimulating. Erato 9029660691.

https://www.warnerclassics.com/release/david-fray-goldberg-variations