Goldberg Variations/ Variations
Dan Tepfer will be playing his version of the Goldberg Variations on the first night of the Vancouver Bach Festival, which runs from August 2 to 12 this year. Tepfer initially made his reputation as a jazz pianist and the concert will be sponsored by Vancouver Coastal Jazz.
In Bach’s time all composers were trained in improvisation and his score forces the performer to make many of their own choices. So the performance is different every time. Hence the title of Tepfer’s CD, variations on variations. Tepfer has written an essay, called Doing it Backwards: my unexpected Goldberg Variations, describing how he was affected by the process of learning the Variations. Originally published in the UCLA Ethnomusicological Review, it is reproduced on his blog. It is definitely worth reading, especially if you can get to his recital.
As a child Tepfer first heard the Variations on a Glenn Gould recording. Gould recorded them twice in very different versions, first in 1955 and again in 1981 on his final recording before his death a year later.
The industry around the Variations continues unabated. Carl Fisher Music has just published a 156-page book containing a complete transcription of Gould’s 1981 recording of the Variations along with additional commentary and source material edited by Nicholas Hopkins. The French record label, Erato, known for the high quality of their recordings has recently issued a new version of the Variations by Alexandre Tharaud. And the Toronto hip-hop producer, Billy Wild, has been making extensive use of Gould’s material in his remixes. Bach is everywhere.
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