Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Monday 22 July 2019, 7.30pm
Jesus College Chapel

Mahan Esfahani harpsichord

The Goldberg Variations were published in Bach’s lifetime with the title Clavier Ubung, which means ‘Keyboard practice’ (a name that greatly underplays their towering musical and technical intricacy). The popular name only materialised in 1802, when Bach’s biographer Johann Forkel related a tale about Bach being asked to write some pieces for the celebrated musician Johann Gottlieb Goldberg to play at night to Count Kaiserling of Saxony, who suffered from insomnia. Most scholars think this is an apocryphal tale, but whatever the truth of it the set is a superb example of the variation form.

The work consists of an aria and 30 variations, which many listeners will be familiar with through the celebrated recording of Glen Gould, who played them on the piano. However, the title page on the first edition specifies that the music was written for two-manual harpsichord, and it is on the harpsichord that you will hear them this evening – played by the Iranian-American virtuoso Mahan Esfahani, who has made it his life’s work to rehabilitate his instrument for the mainstream concert platform.

Mahan Esfahani Website| Map to Venue

Tickets: £26 (students, children and unwaged £12) including booking fee

PRIORITY BOOKING for friends from May 1st. General sale opens May 14th