Donald Satz wrote (January 24, 2005):
The Performer - Believe it or not, Jeno Jando has more recordings in the catalogs than any other pianist. More than a 'house pianist' for Naxos, he is a production machine and all machines break down now and then.
Jando has recorded Bach before. Specifically, he recorded Bach's complete Well Tempered Clavier a few years ago. It wasn't one of the best piano accounts on record, but I did find it highly enjoyable and a good super-budget choice.
The Performance - Jando's Goldbergs isn't as fine as his Well Tempered Clavier, not even close. The more I listen to it, the more I find questionable and unrewarding features. Here are my top problem areas:
1. Jando likes to flatten and round notes, resulting in insufficient lift and exuberance. There is also a metronome-like aspect to his playing that contributes to minimal elasticity.
2. The bleakest variations, Nos. 15, 21, and 25 (Black Pearl) only get a dusting of negativity from Jando.
3. Inflections and accenting are often weak, depleting both the strength and poignancy of Bach's music.
4. Dialogue among the musical lines is undernourished. Much of this is caused by a lack of balance among the voices, making effective communication difficult. There are also too many moments when Jando simply sounds clumsy.
5. To top things off, Jando has a little formula he uniformly employs when playing Bach's repeats. He softens the tone and adds short trills to the upper melody lines. When heard in one or two variations, the effect can be positive. But Jando's steady diet soon becomes predictable and tiresome. Further, those little trills are annoying and sound entirely contrived.
Don's Conclusions - The best I can say is that Jando's Goldberg Variations is serviceable and in fine sound. However, the competition is immense and leaves Jando at the starting gate. I recommend taking a pass on Jando and investigating the piano versions of Glenn Gould, Rosalyn Tureck, Charles Rosen, Tatiana Nikolayeva, and András Schiff (his ECM, not Decca version). And then there are dozens of harpsichord versions to explore. Sad to say, Jando is well below the curve.