Goldberg Variations abound in the catalog, and there's no lack of variety or high quality in the performances already available. Barbara Harbach's version compares favorably with the best of them, and her impeccable playing is graced with gloriously precise recorded sound. Every line is carefully framed in the logic of Bach's musical architecture, driven by human spirit without a trace of mechanical pulse.
This three-disc set also offers a compelling argument for The Art of Fugue as a keyboard work. If Harbach's reading has a weakness it lies in her failure to draw more freely on the organ's multitude of voices to augment the already diverse dimensions of Bach's summary essay on the fugue. But there is nothing weak or hesitant about her tempestuous attack on the unfinished fugue that ends this work, with its musical reference to the letters of the composer's name.
If your Bach library is missing these two monuments of counterpoint, I recommend without reservation Harbach as your untiring guide through a remarkable landscape of canon and fugue. She treads lightly in the footsteps of the master, allowing his mind and heart to touch us directly. Her instruments are supple and new, and the sonics are A+.