GENERAL DISCUSSION: Bach Goldberg Variations
Seems like a few of us are interested in taking a deep dive into a few of the amazing Goldberg Variations!
Since we will all be busy with next month's Community Challenge, I was thinking that this project could have a longer timeline. Perhaps we could even learn a few variations over the winter holidays?
What do you think about everyone learning the Aria and the each member suggests 1 variation for us all to learn?
So far, I think we have about 5-6 Tonebase friends in this group, so that would be only 5-6 variations so far. Please tag anyone else who'd like to join this "additional" challenge group!
Monika Tusnady Susan Sindre Pauline Juan Carlos Olite Genevieve
Great idea but please!!!..no repeats! The Goldberg Variations are very difficult and learning to play even just a couple of variations COMME IL FAUT is a challenge. It might be interesting for each one of us participants 1> to find the ONE recording that resonates the most with us and 2> to learn the aria. Small bites.
Hello Everyone! This is a great idea! I will join in :)
I will admit that I have already performed this piece before, but it never hurts to revisit it! :)
(From back in 2017)
It is SO hard to pick a favorite variation, I will probably submit several!
A few of my absolute favorites include:
No.1, NUMBER 4, No.5, No.7, No.25 (nicknamed The black pearl), No.30!!!!
This piece is extremely difficult BUT manageable! For many of the variations they involve the need for double manual harpsichord, but CAN work well on a single-manual piano. I can offer my humble fingerings/hand crossing combinations (often different than the way the printed page suggests!) that I used for comfort and reliability if you request a certain variation!
Looking Forward and thanks for starting this, Gail!
I love the idea of a longer time! Let’s really savor it. Plus I didn’t know how I could fit it both the regular challenges and Goldberg variations at once! Maybe instead of a “3 week challenge” it can be a “3 month challenge.” :) I will get back to you with my favorite variation soon. Thank you Gail for putting this together.
I love this idea Gail ! I agree that this needs to be a longer project. I must play Variation 1 !!! I just love that variation so much, I have to pick that one. But it is okey to play several I guess!? Var 5 seems like a great challenge! I also would like to take on a quiet one like var 7. and maybe I can throw in var. 8 to the mix.
hi Gail and everyone. I've not been following piano forums the past week but just saw this and it's a great idea and I would love to participate. I've played through all of the variations at various points (not well or at speed, but just learning the notes) and it's quite difficult for me to pick a "favorite" although the aria is one of the few pieces I can actually play from memory.
I just read this in more detail and see now that we are each trying to come up with a variation (or a few?) to work on that doesn't overlap with others. I will probably wait a bit to see what variations people "claim" and then pick something that is leftover that no one has picked yet.
btw, I highly recommend listening to the podcast 30 bach (https://www.thirtybach.com/) for inspiration. There is a connection to tonebase in this podcast as well.
Thank you Gail Starr ! I would love to do this project with everyone. Full disclosure: I learned the Aria plus variations 1-15 a while back, but I will definitely benefit from returning and reviewing and learning new variations! The Goldberg Variations seem like such a spiritual piece to me. Just the first two measures of the Aria put me into an entirely different frame of mind. Like so many people have said, it’s really hard to choose a single variation, which also means that whatever variations end up being chosen, they will be awesome.
I also have a hard time choosing a favorite recording, but I really want to share these two that I return to over and over:
Jean Rondeau, who plays the harpsichord. I am in awe of the emotion he conveys. This particular video seems so intimate and so personal.
Zhu Xiao Mei, who in the video below is playing in the church in which Bach is buried. (She is also the subject of two documentaries on Bach, which are wonderful. They are: “The Return is the Movement” (which is specifically about the Goldberg Variations) and “How Bach Defeated Mao.” Both are available on medici.tv, if any of y’all are subscribers over there.)
Looking forward to this!
Like Sindre, I would love to play Var. 1 ...along with 2, 3, and 4 - a nice little family grouping. I'm game for others, too, as long as they are remotely playable. My main reason for choosing the first four is that they are often played in a way that seems unimaginative and lacking in humour . This morning, I played for a bit and began forming some ideas ...
The composite (as much as we can cobble together as a group) will certainly sound like a dog's breakfast but that will be the unique charm of our creation
RE: ABRIDGED INDIVIDUAL VERSIONS
A single variation is just a nibble - sometimes, that's all we have the stomach for.
Other times we feel hungry for a smorgasbord and we play through our set of personal faves.
To everyone who suggested or thought of the smorgasbord: THANK YOU! We could each weave together our (between one and ...?) favourites - in "hypothetical" order, even. That way we simply delight in everyone's version of a Goldberg collage (or nibble). All of a sudden, overlaps don't matter.
Will someone please support me in my suggestion of NO REPEATS????
RE: PERSONAL SMORGASBORD AND STYLISTIC ORIGINALITY
I’ve been avoiding recordings of the Goldberg lately except Dominic’s, of course, trying to clear my head of the ways they have already been played and looking for something new. Easier said than done! It seems true, however, that the simpler the variation, the more options you have.
For my little smorgasbord, I’m aiming for phrasings and dynamic contrasts possible only on the modern piano and I can probably use some input along the way.
Dominic, can you set this up as a community challenge where we can post for feedback?
Thanks everyone for your engagement in this endeavour. Look how it’s taking shape!
RE: PERSONAL SMORGASBORD AND STYLISTIC ORIGINALITY
After familiarizing myself with this lengthy piece a little more, I've decided on a set-up of pairs:
Aria and var. 1
Var. 4 and 5
Var 7 and 8
Var 13 and 14
Var 25 and 26
Var 29 and 30
I will start practicing this in a couple of weeks, and take my time with it :)
WHY WE PLAY THE PIANO
“When the self loses itself in a transcendent purpose — whether to write great poetry, craft beautiful furniture, understand the motions of galaxies, or help children be happier — the self becomes largely invulnerable to the fears and setbacks of ordinary existence.”
- Csíkszentmihályi RIP
To which degree does working on the Goldberg Variations meet this definition of FLOW for you?
I can honestly say that I never found Bach boring and have loved to listen to (and poorly play) his compositions ever since my first inventions when I was about 10 yrs old . Whether the music is fast , slow , gloomy , passionate etc it definitely takes me to a better place and for a while I can focus and leave everything else behind .
‘I love the variations and although I didn’t care for looking up all those trills , mordants , inverted mordants etc I am enjoying the process of solving the puzzles ! Of course I’m sure all those puzzles have been solved over and over in the past 400 years but they’re new and creative to me.
Hi Friends!!! Gail Starr Thanks Gail for suggesting this discussion - just wanted to bump this thread because it's bach month this month and I'd love to hear you play some of the Goldberge this March.
PSA - I'm going to be throwing an interactive masterclass later this month, and one of the categories of pieces will be a variation or two from the Goldberg variations. When the invitation to play comes out, please feel free to propose your variations and I'll look through the proposals. The final list of performers will be chosen based on a repertoire combination that will allow me to convey some important points in Bach-performance.
I'm hoping to work on No. 25, that wonderful aria - Actually I play the Beethoven Diabelli variations too, and the great aria in the Diabellis has so many resonances with Goldbergs 25.
Looking forward to hearing you all!!