Award-winning accordionist Vincent van Amsterdam performs J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, one of the great masterpieces of Western music. The music of J.S. Bach has been heard in countless guises, from those intended to be meticulous in their authenticity, to loose, improvisatory interpretations. Bach’s treatment of his own music was practical and versatile, often tailored to the musicians available rather than an ideal ensemble, so it seems likely that the composer himself would treat this spectrum of approaches with generosity and pleasure.
Hearing the Goldberg Variations on the accordion allows the listener the chance to hear Bach’s magnificent music in new ways. The instrument’s timbres bring out different nuances in the score, opening our ears to different facets of this intricate work. The accordion is closer to instruments with which Bach was familiar than might be expected. It was developed in the 19th century but, in common with the organs of Bach’s
day, uses a keyboard and the circulation of air to create its distinctive sound, using reeds like a harmonium rather than pipes like an organ. The accordion gained popularity as a folk instrument, and Bach drew upon folk styles in his music, taking the dance forms of his time and elevating them; in the Goldberg Variations themselves he uses folk songs in the final ‘quodlibet’.
This is a fascinating insight into one of the greatest works ever written, a must for lovers of the classical accordion, and for those seeking to hear the music of Bach in a fresh, original interpretation.