“Aria,” from Bach’s Goldberg Variations recorded by Glenn Gould
I’ve had Glenn Gould’s double disc of Bach’s Goldberg Variations in my car for three years. It never gets old. Gould twice tackled this famously difficult piece: for his first studio recording in 1955 and again in 1981, just before his death. In the 1955 version, Gould seems hell bent on demonstrating his genius: bold, confident, full of youthful swagger, Gould blazes through it in 1 minute and 54 seconds. The 1981 version, a full minute slower at 3 minutes and 9 seconds, is more contemplative, sadder, wiser, as if Gould has come to accept his own limitations as a performer and human. So many layers: Bach interpreting and reinterpreting melodic structures for the same chord progression; Gould interpreting Bach; Gould reinterpreting his own, earlier interpretations. This suggests to me that we all have the right (the imperative?) to evolve and grow, to question ourselves, to change.
Chad Reynolds is the author of six poetry chapbooks, including Eau-de-Vie by Sixth Finch Books. He co-runs Short Order Poems, a group which writes poems on typewriters on the spot on whatever you want, which he co-founded with poet Timothy Bradford in Oklahoma City in 2014.
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Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.
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