JS Bach, "Goldberg Variations, Air"
I first heard the piece in pianist Glenn Gould's Hands and I was struck immediately. Every Bach piece becomes heavenly in Gould's hands and the Aria from Goldberg Variations was no exception.
"The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, is a work written for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of an Aria and a set of 30 variations. First published in 1741, the work is considered to be one of the most important examples of variation form.
Aria means Air and the meaning of the word implies that the piece ought to maintain an ethereal form, one that does not possess a strict tempo. The 3/4 key signature tempo is typically Bach way to celebrate and honor the Holy Trinity and the writing and reading of the piece is by no means easy. This will encourage you to make the tempo very flexible and Aerial... S.D.G.
The Variations are named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, the first performer. We have to thank the instigation of the former Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony, Count Kaiserling, who often stopped in Leipzig and brought there with him the aforementioned Goldberg, in order to have him given musical instruction by Bach. The Count was often ill and had sleepless nights. At such times, Goldberg, who lived in his house, had to spend the night in an antechamber, so as to play for him during his insomnia. … Once the Count mentioned in Bach's presence that he would like to have some clavier pieces for Goldberg, which should be of such a smooth and somewhat lively character that he might be a little cheered up by them in his sleepless nights. Bach thought himself best able to fulfill this wish by means of Variations, the writing of which he had until then considered an ungrateful task on account of the repeatedly similar harmonic foundation. But since at this time all his works were already models of art, such also these variations became under his hand. Yet he produced only a single work of this kind. Thereafter the Count always called them his variations. He never tired of them, and for a long time sleepless nights meant: 'Dear Goldberg, do play me one of my variations.' Bach was perhaps never so rewarded for one of his works as for this. The Count presented him with a golden goblet filled with 100 louis-d'or. Nevertheless, even had the gift been a thousand times larger, their artistic value would not yet have been paid for" (Wikipedia) The Aria is a Sarabande in 3/4 time, and features a heavily ornamented melody. The French style of ornamentation suggests that the ornaments are supposed to be parts of the melody; however, some performers (for example Wilhelm Kempff on piano) omit some or all ornaments and present the aria unadorned.
Renato Bellucci plays: "Aria from Goldberg Variations S.D.G."
Staff & Video 1
Hold the bass as long as you can
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