Originally posted by Daniel M.:
I started to like barock and classic music more and more the last weeks. This one is another pretty bunch of notes!
Because I have never listened to it before, I like your recording best, but it really sounds clear and the tempo seems to be the same until the end.
My respect for this! Is there at least one note missing?
Is Goldberg the name of the composer? It sounds like Bach. [/b]
There is an interesting story about "Goldberg," actually (you'll also notice that it's my nickname on this forum, and several other forums as well). First of all, the piece was written by Bach as harpischord variations in 32 parts--it is, like most Bach pieces, superbly structured and its architecture alone is worth many years of studying and analysing (and also playing, I assume), at least if you're a composer or into music theory, which I consider important for any pianist but then I'm personally not so involved as to have actually studied it in that much depth myself.
Anyway, as I was saying, there was a wealthy count who lived near Bach and new the composer's work quite well, and also incidentally employed a musician of his own to entertain him. The count's name was (checks on reference book) Keyserlingk, and his harpsichordist is known as Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, apparently a true virtuoso as far as Baroque harpischordists go.
So, as the story goes, Keyserlingk had long lived with insomnia, which never ceased to frustrate him in the dark and lonely hours of the night. It occurred to him to commission a work from Bach to help keep him--the Count, I mean--entertained in the wee hours of the morning, for Johann Goldberg to play on the harpischord. Indeed, this work ended up being a significant body of variations in G major (which, by the way, begins with a theme, an Aria, pulled out of an earlier piece in...I *think* the Anna Magdalena notebook, though it's questionable which one actually came first). Of course, Bach, as you may know, was himself not very fond of variations and, indeed, did not compose many, if any at all, before the Goldberg variations, and I don't know enough about his history or theory to know for sure whether one may consider the Art of the Fugue to also be a sort of variational cycle either...but the point is, he figured that variations would be ideally boring for an insomniac, although not unpleasing to the ear, due to constant and repetitive harmonies, which might reasonably have helped him doze off to sleep.
Now, as with most tales like this, there's quite a chance that it's not exactly as is popularly told, but I tend to prefer the well-crafted legends to dry facts, to be perfectly honest! The story ends by noting that, late in the night, Count Keyserlingk would call out to Goldberg and ask him to play "my variations," as opposed to "Bach's" or anyone else's. I suppose it is since Goldberg was actually the one to champion them first as far as performance is concerned, it is his name that is attached to the variations and not Keyserlingk's, however.
Interesting, hm? If you are just getting into the variations, it is generally regarded as mandatory to listen to both (actually, there is a third, live recording that few people seem to know of as well--it is superb, but not in the same way as the two studio recordings) of Glenn Gould's recordings, which are as phenomenal now as they were when they first came out. In 1956, Gould plays with a youthful, yet directed and intelligent, energy and musical understanding, and in the 1982 recording, not too long before his death, Gould spreads an air of stable serenity of the most touching manner--although he was never one to "wear his heart on his sleeve" and avoided emotionalism in everything, his command of the music restlessly and at times inexplicably affects the emotions of a listener in awesomely subtle ways. Both recordings represent two of the most disparate sides of art, one at the onset of life and the other being the profundity of death, in many ways. His sense of musicality, especially as portrayed in his trademark piece, is revolutionary and indeed it was performances like that that earned him the title "The Alchemist" (as on the DVD of him playing)--because he could turn a piece like the Variations, which until that time had been regarded as pedantic and dusty, into the most beautiful art, glistening with many facets of humanity.
He also has the technique to match!
...which, I have to admit, would be nice to see a little more of in this recording. Don't get me wrong, you played it very well, but as you said the ornamentations are quite necessary, and as much as I know it hurts, it just has to be a little swifter! Maybe not lightening pace like Gould's, but also not *quite* so moderate and beat-heavy. Relax, and lighten up your finger action, and also practice the piece with varying rhythms. Play, for instance, the right hand opening scales with this degree of unevenness: daaaa, da-daaaa, da-daaaa where each "da" or "daaaa" is one individual note, and the next "da" is exactly the next note in the scale. In other words, make the straight sixteenth notes into dotted 8th note/16th note patterns. Then switch it, do 16th notes/dotted 8th notes like da-Daaaa, da-Daaaa, da-Daaaaa and so on, with the uppercase D's emphasising that you must accent the second note.
Play that way without pedal and as softly and as legato as you can, softly because you will learn lightness of touch, and legato because you don't want to cheat! But at various points you want to make sure you play the piece as many ways as possible, so at some time you will want to play it loudly and relatively disconnected, and with even different rhyhtms than those I mentioned above--be creative, use triplets or something. Rhythms bring out the worst flaws in one's fingering! If you have good fingering, you should be able to play the scales in whatever rhythm you want to. Gradually increase tempo, as well.
This is not a piece that requires arm weight in most respects, though your elbows, shoulders, and so forth must be extremely relaxed; however, concentrate not on taking energy from these places--instead, focus mostly on the wrist and the fingers (again, you musn't allow tension to build up!), as that should give you a tighter control in this style of playing.
Finally, be sure to practice the left hand in a similar manner, and do it hands separately for as long as you feel it's necessary.
I learned the first 16 variations when I was 14-15 (I'm 17 now), but I openly admit that I never played them very well at all, though at the time I could hardly appreciate the true maturity of my undertaking, much less my extreme foolishness in doing so, which I will say was due in no small part to my private teacher who was set on sending me to a prestigious competition with the Goldberg Variations to reap the benefits for himself ( :rolleyes: he was eventually fired for many other reasons along the same lines), as well as to get me into a good school. My teacher after him, a much more down-to-earth and brilliant man, discouraged me rightfully from playing the Variations, though he was impressed by my ambition, and since then I haven't touched them at all! So, unfortunately--or, fortunately actually--they've long been out of my fingers...