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Topic: Opinions on grace notes in 'Goldberg' Variation 25  (Read 150 times)

Offline lettersquash

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How do you (or would you) play the grace notes that adorn Variation 25 - the big jumps, that is, the D to Bb, then C to Ab (bars 1 and 2 respectively)?  I find some pianists play them as 32nds (demi-semiquavers), others as semiquavers/16ths (I think).

They are notated just like the grace notes in the previous beats (Eb-D and D-C respectively) in the full score I downloaded from PianoStreet, with small semiquavers. Those first ones are acciaccaturas, played before the principle note - I don't suppose anyone would play the jumps that way, but with the grace note on the beat (appoggiaturas - if my quick google is correct - and I think I'm right in calling them 'grace notes' despite the big jump).

I gather there are all sorts of ways composers used these marks, and playing them is also a style choice, so this isn't about the 'correct' way to play them. But does anyone have any hunches about what Bach intended? And, more puzzling to me - if they were intended to be semiquavers (or indeed if not) - why not just notate them as part of the time signature, so (in the long version) a normal semiquaver? ...with the top note as another semiquaver tied to the demi-semiquaver. Is the essential point to indicate that it's entirely optional to play them anyway?

Glenn Gould - long (and some later ones he misses out and goes straight to the principle note)
=2124

Paul Barton (with score) - long -


Kimiko Ishizaka (with score) - short -
=3582
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Offline brogers70

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Re: Opinions on grace notes in 'Goldberg' Variation 25
Reply #1 on: June 17, 2024, 12:51:28 AM
I looked at the first edition, available on IMSLP, and the leaping grace notes are not present at all, although the stepwise grace notes are there. The first edition was engraved by a personal friend of Bach's. That is the earliest source available since no autograph manuscript survives. I did not download all the available free versions, but if you are really interested in the history of those grace notes, just go download all the editions available on IMSLP in chronological order and see which editor first introduced the leaping grace notes (my bet is Czerny, since he sometimes thought he could improve on what Bach had written himself).

Offline lettersquash

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Re: Opinions on grace notes in 'Goldberg' Variation 25
Reply #2 on: June 17, 2024, 06:05:56 PM
I looked at the first edition, available on IMSLP, and the leaping grace notes are not present at all, although the stepwise grace notes are there. The first edition was engraved by a personal friend of Bach's. That is the earliest source available since no autograph manuscript survives. I did not download all the available free versions, but if you are really interested in the history of those grace notes, just go download all the editions available on IMSLP in chronological order and see which editor first introduced the leaping grace notes (my bet is Czerny, since he sometimes thought he could improve on what Bach had written himself).
Thank you for doing that. It never occurred to me they might have been introduced after Bach. The impertinence! I suppose it doesn't matter too much to me, I'm not after historical purity, but it's interesting to know that. I'll play about with it and see what I prefer.
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Offline lettersquash

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Re: Opinions on grace notes in 'Goldberg' Variation 25
Reply #3 on: June 20, 2024, 10:06:41 PM
I didn't go through lots of transcriptions, but remembered I'd seen a hand-written copy attributed to Bach of the first printed version (1741) a while ago, so I checked it out, and the grace-note leaps are in there. It's said that Bach copied the printed version in order to make 'corrections' (and perhaps improvements?). I wonder if that's what these were, additions Bach thought would improve the work, as they seem to be in a lighter ink. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b550059626/f31.item
Czerny's off the hook. ;)
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Offline brogers70

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Re: Opinions on grace notes in 'Goldberg' Variation 25
Reply #4 on: June 21, 2024, 04:50:10 PM
I didn't go through lots of transcriptions, but remembered I'd seen a hand-written copy attributed to Bach of the first printed version (1741) a while ago, so I checked it out, and the grace-note leaps are in there. It's said that Bach copied the printed version in order to make 'corrections' (and perhaps improvements?). I wonder if that's what these were, additions Bach thought would improve the work, as they seem to be in a lighter ink. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b550059626/f31.item
Czerny's off the hook. ;)

Interesting. Thank you.
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