November 05, 2016
CategoryBach at my side, Goldberg Variations
Variation 10 is a four-voice fughetta, with a four-bar subject heavily decorated with ornaments and somewhat reminiscent of the opening aria’s melody.
The exposition takes up the whole first section of this variation. First the subject is stated in the bass, starting on the G below middle C. The answer (in the tenor) enters in bar 5, but it’s a tonal answer, so some of the intervals are altered. The soprano voice enters in bar 9, but only keeps the first two bars of the subject intact, changing the rest. The final entry occurs in the alto in bar 13. There is no regular counter-subject in this fugue.
The second section develops using the same thematic material with slight changes. It resembles a counter-exposition: the voices enter one by one, all begin by stating the subject (sometimes a bit altered, like in the first section). The section begins with the subject heard once again, in the soprano voice, accompanied by an active bass line, making the bass part the only exception since it doesn’t pronounce the subject until bar 25.
While the form of the fugue is normally very serious and associated to very severe moods, in this case Bach is being ironic: this is not a proper fugue, but rather a fughetta, the mood of the subject is playful and falsely pompous.