Bachs famous Goldberg Variations are chiefly elaborated in three parts. This observation sparked Annette Bartholdy on to transfer the work to the classical chamber scoring. The new Goldberg Trio thus now offers an inspiring work for all string players who would like to master this epoch-making work. The string trio version is so close to the wonderful source that no less a luminary than Bernard Haitink enthusiastically proclaimed: Its completely true to the original, whilst using the colours of the three instruments which the keyboard cannot give.
"Eine wunderbare und mit vorbildlicher Sorgfalt ausgefüllte Idee, über die sich die Streicherwelt freuen darf! Denn endlich kann sich auch unsereiner dieses geniale Werk zu eigen machen."(Julia Hartel, Violinorum)
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations are a pinnacle of the Baroque art of variation. Designated by the composer as “Keyboard Practice, consisting of an Aria with Divers Variations, for the Harpsichord with 2 Manuals,” the pieces were personally arranged by Bach for their first printing in 1741. The aria on which the entire work is based is first found in the hand of Anna Magdalena Bach in her second <i>Notenbüchlein</i>, which she began compiling in 1725.<br>The clear structure of the 30 variations orients itself primarily on the 32-measure bass line. Each third variation is a canon in which the intervallic distance of the canonically entering part is consistently expanded. Only the 30th variation, the “Quodlibet,” diverges from this principle. The 16th variation, an “Ouvertüre,” marks the beginning of the second part of the work. The variation cycle is closed by a da capo of the aria.<br>That the pieces were named, albeit posthumously, after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg is due to an anecdote according to which the work was composed at the request of the Russian envoy to Dresden, Carl Reichsgraf von Keyserlingk, for his private harpsichordist Goldberg.<br>A few years ago, I heard the Goldberg Variations in a concert. I was less impressed by the piano playing than moved by the grandiose music of Johann Sebastian Bach.<br>This is why I decided to study the work in depth, whereupon I soon realized that the music is laid out chiefly in three parts. I immediately imagined the sound of a string trio flowing through this work. Bach himself proceeded very freely in his arrangements of works by others and himself for different scorings. An excellent example of this can be found in the Harpsichord Concertos in D major and G minor, which he had initially composed as violin concertos.<br>My work on the present edition for violin, viola and violoncello progressed steadily and became an exciting journey back to the roots of the work. It is based on the edition in the Neue Bachausgabe and on the aforementioned first edition authorized by Bach. The clarity and simplicity of Bach’s musical text always remained at the center of the transcription. Ornaments were borrowed very cautiously from the source, and the voice leading was left untouched whenever possible. At many passages, the voice leading was emphasized by the use of double rests.<br>Bernard Haitink describes his impression of this string trio version thusly: “It’s completely true to the original, whilst using the colours of the three instruments which the keyboard cannot give.”<br>May this edition be an inspiration to all who discover for themselves this wonderful work in its version for three stringed instruments, while seeking to remain as close as possible to its original form. As the master says: “Composed for Music Lovers, to Refresh their spirits, by Johann Sebastian Bach” (thus the title page of the first printing).<br><br>Uetikon am See, Fall 2013