Alisdair Kitchen is performing the Bach masterpiece for us, one variation a day. Here’s 47 seconds of contemplation, with Al’s commentary below.
A boppy little three-voice invention in which conversational imitation between the parts anticipates canonic procedures to come…
Now we’re underway, a little background to the project… It struck me that Twitter would an interesting medium in which to ‘perform’ this work, as Bach restricts himself throughout to a Twitter-esque premise: how much expression can you pack into a fixed, bite-sized framework? Twitter has its 140-character limit, and Bach his strict thirty-two note bass. Yet each variation transcends this limitation in a way not altogether dissimilar to the way a great tweet reaches beyond itself by having embedded links, media, and generally by being shared around. In a broad sense, there’s something intrinsically contrapuntal about Twitter. And, I’m stretching it here, but I fancy there’s almost something canonic in the whole ‘following’ process!
Staying true to my medium, I wanted the project to be accomplished somewhat on the hoof. I spent a couple of weeks intensively revising the Goldbergs, which I last played in 2007 for my Masters degree recital at the Royal College of Music. The Austrian Cultural Forum in London (where I gave a concert some years ago) were kind enough to lend me their salon and baby Bösendorfer, so two weeks ago I turned up (on two of the hottest days of the year!) and spent perhaps six hours in total recording, using a USB microphone and laptop. The ensuing days, I sat hunched over my computer like a man possessed, reviewing and editing my material using Audacity, a splendid piece of freely downloadable software.
Apologies for the few acoustical pops in this variation… I suspect the microphone may have jiggled somehow!