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It’s said that Bach wrote the Goldberg Variations to help a nobleman with insomnia get to sleep. I can’t imagine a more counterproductive sleep aid. This music makes the heart flutter, the toes flex, the mind fly, the diaphragm speed up until one is breathless, the eyes well with tears of ecstasy, the whole soul come alive and wide awake. If I could bring only ten recordings to the fabled desert island, one would be the Goldberg Variations, and I wouldn’t dare listen to it right before bed.


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