Call Number: CD 330
Format: Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: January 1, 1995
Label: Acoma Company
In 1741, Bach wrote the Aria and 30 variations which comprise the Goldberg Variations . The Aria (a sarabande) introduces a 32 note ground bass from which free and canonic variations evolve. While the bass line is varied within the harmonic context, it is described as “a gigantic chaconne” by Kenneth Gilbert. The appealing character of the work is found in Bach’s tremendous variety of forms and textures. Canonic treatments found in variations 9, 15 and 27 exist alongside the strong dance elements of 1, 4, 7 and 19. A quodlibet featuring two German folktunes creates a light-hearted contrast before the Aria returns to close the cycle. In most cases, with exception to the opening and closing Aria, I have elected to take repeats as indicated.
Described by Glenn Gould as “thirty very interesting but independent-minded pieces”, this work has become legendary in its virtuoso technical and interpretative requirements. While there were many frustrating months as I endeavoured to capture the spirit and magic of this music on six strings, I was nevertheless entirely possessed and compelled by it. Several variations were designated to the scrap heap, others await my attention from a manuscript book. Bach’s Goldberg Variations stands as the piece of most profound effect in my life and I continue to be enthralled by its utter magnificence.
Forest Scenes is a suite of three pieces with the general theme of nature. North Face opens boldly with brush strokes and snap pizzicato suggesting a violent wind. Later, a quiet tremolo evokes a sense of calm, but the tension mounts again building to its climax. Hibiscus on the Water contrasts in its pure lyricism. As a long-breathed melody unwinds over an undulating accompaniment, the music captures the beauty of fresh hibiscus blooms, yet also communicates a sadness for their quick passing. Woodchuck Blues is a playful piece. Drawing from blues and jazz styles, syncopation, hemiola, blue notes and pizzicato combine to create a piece with real personality and pizzazz.
Hebraic Contrasts is a collection of four movements extending from a piece I recorded in 1990. Notable in Rollin’s style is the use of compound melody where the melodic line is displaced an octave of more. As this occurs, new lines emerge in contrasting registers, frequently resulting in a two-part dialogue punctuated with chords. A slow Meditation opens the work and progresses into the quicker Hassidic Dance . In the Intermezzo , the tempo slows dramatically, while the spirited Hassidic Song closes the collection. Jewish folk melodies are interspersed in the second and fourth movements and add a sense of freshness and rhythmic vitality.
Reverie and March was composed for a series of concerts in 1994 and is dedicated to my friend and colleague Gerhard Samuel. Inspired by the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, with its Dies Irae theme, I was impelled to bring the theme to the guitar in the Reverie. This provides the foundation over which a simple, unpretentious melody unfolds. The March presents a new theme in the upper voice, accompanied initially with free counterpoint and then with punctuating chords. A chromatic, rhythmic motive marks the phrases. The B section explores the march theme in a new melodic/rhythmic guise before the abridged return and closing chords.
Drone is a study piece with driving energy and spirit. It is derived from the third movement of the Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra by Richard Smoot.
– Lynn Harting-Ware
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Goldberg Variations (Aria, variations 1, 2, 4, 13, 19, 9, 7, 15, 27, 30, aria)
Reverie and March
RICHARD JORDAN SMOOT