Bach. Goldberg Variations. Variatio 1


October 29, 2016


Bach at my side, Goldberg Variations


This lively variation markedly contrasts with the slow, contemplative mood of the theme. The rhythm in the right hand forces the emphasis on the second beat, giving rise to syncopation from bars 1 to 7. Hands cross at bar 13 from the upper register to the lower, bringing back this syncopation for another two bars. In the first two bars of the B part, the rhythm mirrors that of the beginning of the A part, but after this a different idea is introduced.
Williams sees this as a sort of polonaise. The characteristic rhythm in the left hand is also found in Bach’s Partita No. 3 for solo violin, in the A♭ major prelude from the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier, and in the D minor prelude of the second book. Heinz Niemüller also mentions the polonaise character of this variation.

The character of this piece is lively, but it is also brave and full of energy. It is as if Bach were enthusiastic about starting this new work of his.