Bach: Goldberg Variations
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The relentlessly intricate architecture of the Goldberg Variations still engage scholars after hundreds of years, while the soothing, noble poetry and formidable technical demands of the piece continue to captivate players and listeners.
A number of legendary performances of this monumental work have been recorded on piano as well as on harpsichord and organ - two of the most popular and highly regarded ones were recorded on the piano by Glenn Gould in 1955 and 1981.
Bach wrote the work with a two-manual harpsichord in mind, which makes the challenge for the pianist even greater – the many hand-crossings, possibly inspired by Scarlatti’s keyboard music, is much easier to perform on two manuals.
Johann Nicolaus Forkel wrote in his Bach biography (1802) that the Variations had been commissioned by the Russian Ambassador to Saxony Count Kaiserling, who suffered from insomnia. Goldberg was a young musician, who according to Forkel’s (probably spurious) version of events, was supposed to play from the Variations during the Count’s sleepless nights to cheer him up a little.
Rather than just varying the melody of the Aria, the thirty variations are built upon its bass line. Every third variation is a canon at increasing intervals, except the final, thirtieth variation, a so-called quodlibet, mixing a number of popular tunes - including one that goes "Cabbage and turnips have driven me away, had my mother cooked meat, I'd have opted to stay". After this the heavenly Aria with its elusive beauty returns to close the work.
| Goldberg variations
May 21, 2011, 09:40:22 PM by sxsx
|I recently started trying to play Bachs goldberg variations, and I am mostly interested in variations 1 and 3, but it is insanely hard for me.
I have just a little more than 1 year of piano lessons, and I am not having lessons right now.
Should I just continue trying or this is omsething only for more experienced players ?
| Goldberg Variation: Two Keyboard Variations
May 18, 2011, 10:06:41 PM by aeryck
|Does anyone have suggestions for a playable approach to these crossing hands variations in the Goldberg where notes are quickly (and seemingly impossibly) repeated?
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