Tafelmusik takes the music of Bach online with newly recorded excerpts of the Goldberg Variations in an original orchestral arrangement by Music Director Elisa Citterio. Originally scheduled for live performance earlier this month, the world premiere of Citterio’s arrangement of this masterpiece was to be a major highlight of Tafelmusik’s 2019/20 season, before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of several concerts.
From their homes in Toronto, Tafelmusik musicians recorded the first and final variations (no. 1 and no. 30), which Citterio scored for baroque orchestra: strings, winds, and continuo. Bach’s Goldberg Variations—a cornerstone of classical music—were written as an exercise in keyboard virtuosity and remain among the most technically demanding works ever written for harpsichord.
Citterio’s personal connection to the music was a powerful stimulus for this arrangement. “Since my teenage years, Bach’s Goldberg Variations is music that has been present at all the crucial moments of my life,” said Citterio. “It’s been especially comforting to return to this music during the unprecedented situation that we are all experiencing. The enduring, timeless nature of Bach’s music grounds us and reminds us of our shared humanity. The musicians of Tafelmusik wanted to come together to offer a little taste of our preparations for the pre-empted Goldbergs premiere. I hope that our digital performance will bring joy and help people feel a little less isolated.”