Listening Log – [Pt. III]- Johann Sebastian Bach- Goldberg Variations, BWV 988


Listening Log – [Pt. III]- Johann Sebastian Bach- Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 In February 2020 Listened (download) to digital audio CD 2004: ‘Bach: Goldberg Variations – Zenph Re-performance’. (1955) on Sony Classical Performer: Glenn Gould,

The Goldberg Variations consists of an Aria and its 30 variations. The constant from one variation to the next being the bass line.

The Aria itself consists of G Major melody in 3/4 time which opens with dotted minims in the bass line and a very ornamented top line playing dotted crotches and crochets alternating with triplet and quintuplet semi quaver figures. It is a yearning and highly atmospheric piece of music with a fragile beauty but a strong sense of movement and purpose. Although hesitant it moves from phrase to phrase delineating and emotional journey and like an unfolding story.

The first variation is far more brusque and punctuated with strong accents and force replacing the delicate sensitivity of the aria.

Variation 3 opens with a very memorable figure in 12/8 with even more sense of movement and a flowing quality.

Variation 7 ends each phrase with a distinct trill forming a repeated pattern using ornamentation.

Variation 12 which is in 3/4 has a very canonical structure and a lot of gusto. Feels rather ‘anthemic’ in places.

The variation which comes after, no 13. is in direct contrast although still in 3/4 feels very light and nimble with it’s demi semi quaver figures.

Variation 14 which also has short value figures is altogether more authoritative and reminds me of music Mozart might have written, galloping, hurtling forward.

Variation 15 is a slow and lyrical Andante in 2/4 which is very affecting coming after the frenzied 14th variation.

Variation 21 is another canon in 4/4 one of my personal favourites . Variation 25, also one I like but very quiet and gentle in comparison in a 3/4 time signature.