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Titel: Goldberg-Variationen BWV 988 (Streichquartett)
bearbeitet für Streichquartett von Woo Joon Im
Bestellnr.: 36 108-PA (Partitur/Score), 36 108-ST (Stimmen/Parts)
Goldberg-Variations, BWV 988 is a work for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of one aria and thirty variations. First published in 1741, it is also the fourth in his Klavier-Übung series. Goldberg Variations is often referred to as one of the most important work in the genre of variation music. The title was named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg who first premiered the work at a concert.
There is a well known background story to this musical work. The story goes that the Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony, Count Hermann Carl Kaiserling suffered from insomnia and asked Bach to compose this piece so that Goldberg could play it for him. However, there is still a debate as to whether this story is indeed true. One of the reasons being that Goldberg was then 12 or 13 years old - way too young to be kept in mind as a performer for such a grand piece. This argument claims that Bach probably decided to compose the work on his own, not by commission.
Whether the background story is true or not though, the musical piece still has quite a reputation as "good music to sooth insomniacs." Many music therapists these days recommend the Goldberg Variations for easing insomnia for its soothing characteristics.
After the Aria and the following 30 variations are played, the Aria is repeated before ending the piece. One way to look at the variations is to group them by three consecutive Variations (i.e., Variations 1-3, Variations 4-6, Variations 7-9 and so on). This is because the three consecutive ones have similar compositions to one another. For instance, variations with numbers of multiples of three have subtitles, such as Canon 1 for Variation 3 and Canon 2 for Variation 6. Variations 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20 and 29, meanwhile, generally have two voice parts. So looked at it that way, the work can be seen as "10 sets of music with three variations within each set."
Both before and after these series of tightly knit and coherently themed Variations are played, comes the Aria. This sequence helps strengthen the coherency and frame the work in a structured manner. All variations have a similar harmonic progression and have the same binary form. Despite these similarities, the variations still manage to have a uniqueness to each piece and brings out the genius of Bach in its full brilliance. Total duration of the piece, when the repeat instructions are fully observed, record approximately 90 minutes. The work is indeed a masterpiece that gives a snapshot of Bach';s unique musical style and outstanding composition techniques.
Im has always thought that this much-loved work originally by Bach was too beautiful to be exclusively performed by keyboard instrument players and while searching for arrangements of the work for other instruments, came across those for a brass quintet, a quartet with 2 oboes and 2 basoons, and the famous arrangement by Dmitry Sitkovetsky for a string trio.
In Woo Joon Im’s opinion, if the Goldberg Variations, the original, were to be arranged to be played by a different ensemble of musical instruments, a string quartet seems to be the obvious choice due to the numerous parts conducive to bringing out the full characters of all four of the string instruments. But surprisingly, no arrangements have been made for the work so far. This has led Woo Joon Im to attempt at the arrangement himself.
In this version for a string quartet, the focus is on maintaining the feel of the original work as much as possible while ensuring that all notes can be properly played without technical difficulty. There were parts that the violoncello and viola cannot play because the notes were too low and out of the two instruments'; range, so this had to be adjusted by having the parts performed at a higher octave. But there are only two such segments throughout the entire arranged piece, which means the changes were minimal.
Goldberg Variations has been reborn into a string quartet that retains the similar feel of Bach';;s original work played by a keyboard instrument in that it keeps a homophonic sound in all ranges of the notes. However, there are new attributes that have been added to the new piece as a result of the arrangement. One of the most noticeable is that the notes carry a more various ring to them as more than one instrument is used. Another added attribute is that as there are more than one keyboard player playing the piece, the essence of a fugue is really highlighted. The variations that consist of a four part fugue, in particular, shines through the four instruments in a string quartet and adds more nuance to Bach's work.
Preis(in €): 22,00 (Partitur /Score), 37,00 (Stimmen/Parts)