The pianist Alisdair Kitchen has approached us with a plan for providing a window of contemplation in your busy day. Each day for the next month, he will post one of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on Slipped Disc, accompanied by a personal note.
Put on the coffee. Here’s the theme.
Here’s the first variation. Run sound.
Bach kicks his variations off to a flying start with this fleet two-part invention. It is, on the face of it, a radical departure from the mood of the theme; previous of his ground bass compositions, like the organ Passacaglia or violin Chaconne, grow organically from their themes. Yet I have always been puzzled by a mysterious inevitability about Variation One emerging from the Aria. So I felt like quite a numpty when I finally realised during recording that the motives of this variation are derived from those of the immortal sequence that closes the aria. Imagine the right hand of those bars sped up, and you’ll see what I mean, if you haven’t noticed that already…
Pianist and Conductor