The New York Times is one of several outlets to have drawn a connection between pianist Víkingur Ólafsson and the late Glenn Gould, and it's viable. Ólafsson does not focus as heavily on Bach as did Gould, and he does not have Gould's highly wrought (or overwrought) way in slow pieces, but in his combination of fleet passagework and attention to unusual detail, he may well remind listeners of the great Canadian. The first CD in this double album, with Ólafsson's readings of mostly short dance and contrapuntal pieces, is available separately, but the full double release may be recommended. Ólafsson includes various Bach transcriptions on CD 1, and the meaning of this becomes clear in the "Reworks," where various electronic musicians are brought on board to collaborate with Ólafsson on treatments of Bach's music. These are of various kinds, with veteran electronic pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto and kraut rocker Hans-Joachim Roedelius on hand along with several Icelandic musicians, and range from specific references to Bach to general evocations of a Bachian mood. Ólafsson seems to suggest that the electronic versions are part of a long tradition of Bach reception that also includes the transcriptions of Siloti and others. It gives the listener something to chew on, and the album may also serve to introduce flavors of contemporary electronics to those whose tastes run more to Bach. A typically bold statement from Ólafsson, from whom the last has definitely not yet been heard.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2