Do we need another "Goldberg Variations"?

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camaron wrote: That would

camaron wrote:

That would indeed change the whole discussion. This is the first I ever heard about this. My first thought was: what kind of edition do you have? Could that have been added by the publisher/editor? Did Chris say that there is not an autograph score?

It is the Shirmer's Library score, edited by Ralph Kirkpatrick (1934). I believe it is an absolutely classic edition, almost certainly used by many of the great pianists. (It sets out the complex ornaments on a seperate stave, and sometimes presents different voices on seperate staves - absolutely invaluable for playing, as well as understanding.) It was based on the original engraved edition published in Nurnberg by Balthasar Schmid. He was a friend of Bach's and this edition was published in Bach's lifetime, so there are good reasons to think it is accurate. 

These first time bars are only one bar in length, by the way, and are usually pretty simply run-ins back to the beginning. 

Very interesting, Jane.

 

Jane, that is really interesting.  As I mentioned before, there are also movements like that in the Partitas.

Indeed there is no autograph score but I’ve just been reading a fascinating essay by Christoph Wolff. It’s in his collection, Bach, Essays on his Life aand Music.  He explains that though there is no surviving autograph the work was published during Bach’s lifetime. Very few copies of the first edition survive, mostly in private collections.  But in 1975 there surfaced one of these, with annotations on it in Bach’s own handwriting!  It includes some corrections that probably most editors would have made anyway, but also some articulation marks and simple ornaments (trills, mordents, appoggiaturas, slurs).  

 

The copy also includes, on the inner side of the back cover, in Bach’s handwriting, ‘fourteen enigmatic circle canons’ based on the first 8 bars of the aria ground bass. One of these is identical with the music Bach is holding in his hand in the famous Haussmann portrait.

I can’t find my score so have ordered another. I’ve made sure I ordered the most recent Henle Urtext edition which I hope may include some of this information. I should have it on Tuesday.

Camaron, the Sculenberg quote is interesting too.  When was that written? As you know I think the mood is changing on the subject of repeats.

Anyway we have plenty of ‘meat’ for our discussion. Sorry to delay you both, but I do need the score!

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

On seconds thoughts I wonder

On seconds thoughts I wonder if it changes much after all. Different endings/transitions could just mean that, IF repeats are taken, the composer would like them linked like that. It doesnt necessarily mean that it is not regulated by performance convention. But here I’m lost, because the truth is that I've no idea what these convention in Germany in the first half of the 18th century were.

 

I still wonder about the huge incongruences in recordings though. I’ve been checking more of these, for the Black Pearl particularly and it is harpsichord players who more often don’t play this particular variation repeat, when playing the others. Harpsichord players are, by definition, more historically minded!

And there still remains the huge question: why those, and only those ones?

 

Chris: 2006

Chris: 2006

Ah! much more recent than I was expecting.

Chris A.Gnostic

camaron wrote:

camaron wrote:

On seconds thoughts I wonder if it changes much after all. Different endings/transitions could just mean that, IF repeats are taken, the composer would like them linked like that. It doesnt necessarily mean that it is not regulated by performance convention.

Absolutely. Though I think it does add some weight to the repeat side of the scales. If someone had only heard the Goldberg's unrepeated, you could make a case for saying that that they hadn't heard the whole thing.........

I am no expert, either, and certainly no historian, but it is hard to believe that audiences and/or performers in Bach's day took much interest in such matters. The idea of strict fidelity to the score or the composers intentions or whatever is surely another one of those ideas that really only took hold with the birth of Romanticism. One can probably chart the growth of this obsession with the decline of improvisation...........It is hard, anyway, to imagine Bach or Mozart even devoting a second's thought to the question of repeats. They would surely have played what they felt was appropriate at that particular moment.........

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

I think it does add some weight to the repeat side of the scales

Yes, it does feel like it

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

If someone had only heard the Goldberg's unrepeated, you could make a case for saying that that they hadn't heard the whole thing.........

I'm not bothered about that at all. But that's just me. The Goldbergs is for a two manual keyboard. On ocasions, for what i've read, both hands play the same note (in both manuals) simultanously. In a piano this is impossible, obviously. So you could argue that you never hear all the notes on a piano. Does that really make a difference?

 

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

it is hard to believe that audiences and/or performers in Bach's day took much interest in such matters. The idea of strict fidelity to the score or the composers intentions or whatever is surely another one of those ideas that really only took hold with the birth of Romanticism. One can probably chart the growth of this obsession with the decline of improvisation...........It is hard, anyway, to imagine Bach or Mozart even devoting a second's thought to the question of repeats. They would surely have played what they felt was appropriate at that particular moment.........

I think that is spot on.

Searching further...

Thanks to Jane's findings and more than the eloquent and more elaborated arguments from prominent pianists like A. Schiff and R. Tureck, now we find ourselves in a situation where we might not be that close to the "repeats offenders".

In my (piano) score of the work in question, there are clearly these single bars of extra repeats and they are meaningful and needful indeed.

From my more than four decades experience dealing with every kind of performer (singers, instrumental soloists or conductors), I was told the following about their performing principles and practice:

a) First of all, they perform for themselves (to make sure that they are satisfied with what they do and to feel that they serve the work and the composer to the best of their abilities).

b) They perform live for an audience. In this case, in situ and ad hoc limitations should be taken into serious consideration, if they are not even imposed by producer(s) or the venue or any other particular factor. In this case, an issue as the repeats of the Goldberg Variations is at their discretion. So, there is nothing new or surprising if (Bach and Mozart or Brahms) "should have played what they felt was appropriate at that particular moment..."

c) They play for a recording company. In this case, if there is no particular limitation from the production side, the performer has to serve the work and the composer without betraying his own principles and convictions. The recording is a sort of his/her/their musical statement for any potential listener and even for the posterity (as long as the record will be preserved in good condition in some sort of archives). In this case, the issue of the "repeats" go a bit further than the discretional powers of the performer.

As for what Camaron said about the significance of any difference when the work is played on a two-manual Harpsichord or a modern Piano, the fine Russian pianist Nikolai Demidenko, although he extensively performed always on the modern piano works of Scarlatti, Bach or Mozart, claimed that what he actually played was a...transcription of the original, because of the altogether loss of the timbre of the instument the work originally written plus the issue of the different temperament, when the work is played on a modern Piano. The issue is not that one might "miss" any note (as long as most of these Keyboard works are written for two, three, four or even five voices), but how to adjust these parts, sometimes written specifically for two manuals (with even more specifical notations of which manual has to be used) in a one-manual Keyboard (whether a Harpsichord, Fortepiano or a modern Grand Piano).

In the Goldberg Variations, only 11 (including Var. 25) are written specifically for two manuals and three for either one or two. The rest are for one manual...anyway.

Parla

 

Rapph Kirkpatrick's Edition

Jane wrote:

Shirmer's Library score, edited by Ralph Kirkpatrick (1934). I believe it is an absolutely classic edition, almost certainly used by many of the great pianists.

Astonishing. Kirkpatrick was born in 1911.  He must have been 23 when it was published, let alone prepared.

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

c hris johnson wrote:

c hris johnson wrote:

Astonishing. Kirkpatrick was born in 1911.  He must have been 23 when it was published, let alone prepared.

Chris

Astonishing indeed. And the general tone is not that of a young man.......more a seasoned scholar who has just about lost patience with the povery of understanding he is confronted with at every step.

Then again, by 23 Mozart was already up to k320.........

Wikipedia notes that "From

Wikipedia notes that "From 1933 to 1934, Kirkpatrick taught at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria"

His preface to the Goldberg Variation is dated "Salzburg, September 15, 1934"

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