Bach Goldberg Variations set for 3 clarinets
J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations were first published in 1741 as an Aria and 30 Variations. It was named for Johann Gottlieb Goldberg who was an excellent keyboardist. It is a large work, taking about 45 minutes to perform even without repeats. It was probably written with a two manual harpsichord in mind as it has many instances of hand crossing which are difficult on a one manual keyboard, but simplified with two manuals. Perhaps due to this tendency, the pieces are often in three distinct parts which make it a rich source for transcribing for a trio of woodwinds or strings.In this setting I chose to make some use of Ferruccio Busoni’s edition of 1915 where he made simple alterations to make the music more playable on a single manual keyboard, thereby clarifying the three part structure. However, he also made some rather large changes and even added a coda with very Romantic period styling. In many of these I choose to stay close to the original Bach editions. There are few dynamic markings and ornaments in this edition, so players are encouraged to add what they believe are useful for their performance. In addition, due to its great length you may consider leaving the repeats out as well as deciding to play only certain variations as a matter of keeping to performance time limitations. I suggest that the beginning aria definitely be included, however. Score and parts are included. The audio sample is of the 1st aria and one variation, played by the arranger, John Gibson.
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