András Schiff

The great Hungarian pianist András Schiff returns to Benaroya Hall to perform J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” a keyboard masterpiece he so reveres that he’s recorded it twice. The most recent was a live recording released in 2003 that fuses deep eccentricity with startling insight.

Schiff’s latest project is Beethoven’s “Diabelli Variations,” which he also recorded twice for a new 2-CD set on ECM New Series: once on a Bechstein piano built in 1921, and again on a Franz Brodmann fortepiano from circa 1820.

The fortepiano’s sound — with its slight harpsichord-buzz layered over strong percussive notes — is what listeners would have heard in Beethoven’s day. In his liner notes Schiff enthuses, “On it the music sounds fresher, bolder and infinitely more subtle.”

Some might argue with that, but kudos to Schiff for offering the period-authentic version alongside his modern-piano recording. Schiff performs the “Goldberg Variations” at 8 p.m. Friday, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $19-$112 (206-215-4747 or

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer