A café under Paris skies? An Oktoberfest polka party? The Far Side hell? With its buttons and bellows so heavily bound in stereotype, where does your mind go first at the thought of an accordion?
Likely not the same place as Janne Rättyä, an accomplished classical accordion player from Finland, whose mind and fingers recently wandered over to the Goldberg Variations for his latest recording project, released last month on the Ondine label.
Back in the mid-18th century, J.S. Bach composed his set of keyboard variations for an insomniac Russian count who wanted some music that his harpsichordist, Goldberg, could play to accompany his sleeplessness. Or so the story goes.
Nowadays however, unless you happen to be a purist with a double-manual harpsichord in your bedroom, there's no reason not to experience the Goldberg Variations in other contexts. Janne Rättyä makes a convincing case for the accordion, as did Denis Patkovic a few years back. Glenn Gould and many others have done just fine with the piano, a more obvious substitute. But you don't even need a keyboard, really — just a little imagination and whatever instruments you happen to find lying around the house.
A few strings:
A harp (and some candles):
Saxophones and double basses:
A Moog synthesizer (and a silent metronome):
Some crutches and a few dancers:
From the Canadian Brass to Uri Caine, there is no shortage of adaptations to choose from. Tell us about your favourite version of Bach's Goldberg Variations in the comments below.
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on Jul 15, 2012