When I was a child, I was always bored listening to Bach. However, when I grew up, I knew that Bach was the sea, you cannot see the end.
The first time I listened to “Goldberg Variations” was from The Silence of the Lambs. Its melody was graceful, and the theme of the film was gray and dark. Both give the audience a psychological and visual contrast. ‘Gothenburg Variations’ is Bach’s later works, the theme of which comes from his early song to his wife, Anna.
Gothenburg is the name of a musician. There was a count who often had insomnia, and then he often took Gothenburg with him to play the piano to calm his mind. The count wished Bach to point out Gothenburg. Then Bach wrote it. Gothenburg variations have multiple styles, such as Sicilian dances, French preludes, German folk songs, and Italian arias. However, the mix of styles is just right in Bach’s hands.
In Goldberg Variations, Bach began to build his magnificent building, where there were extraordinarily beautiful proportions and constantly emerging novelties.
All 30 variations of this work are arranged in a group of three. The final parts of each group are Canon. It is the most singing of all the variations, and sometimes I get addicted to it and forget to think about its structure. The music here is so delicate that it brings me endless joy and unspeakable excitement. Also, each group begins with a relatively free variation.
Now let me briefly talk about some of my favorite variations from “Goldberg Variations.
Variation 1 is full of pleasure. In the first section, the leap and rhythm of the left hand express joy. The technique of crossing hands in these two inventions is equally impressive. In the continuous bass parts, the two voice parts have launched a continuous response. Then the first Canon of the whole song, there is a sense of dance, 12/8 shows that except for a pure pastoral flavor.
Variation 13 leads us into an extraordinarily great world, and I feel that the emotions of the whole work have quietly changed here. If most of the previous variations come from the material world, the thirteen variations will take us out of here. Its delicate and restrained melody seems to come from the slower of a concerto. Bach uses two sighing single notes, rising from the accompaniment pattern to the upper air. Towards the end, the left-handed semitones once again add to the solemnity and mystery of the pure land of bliss. Thoughts have stayed somewhere on the piano, fingers tapping on keyboards elsewhere.
After experiencing a period of emotional catharsis, the 15 variations are presented to us in the form of the fifth Canon in the first minor variation of the whole song. The emotional experience of contrast is very comfortable, and its downward phrases are still immersed in the sigh of the thirteen variations, especially sad. However, the corresponding upward melody brings hope. It felt that Bach did not allow complete despair in his music, possibly because of his religious beliefs. Music flows in sorrow. The bass part is dramatic and mimics the sighs and wide intervals of the upper voice. At the unforgettable end of the song, our hands are separated from each other, the music fades away, and we are left alone in awe. Bach’s music creation process is more like an elaborate craftsman than an artist.