Thoughts on Bach Goldberg Variations by Dmitry Sitkovetsky
For me Bach has always been very much the life force of music. He knew something that others didn’t know about the secrets of composition. A lot of it is inspiration but it is also a fantastic technique and perseverance. It’s enlightened. I’ve recorded the solo sonatas and partitas twice, in 1984 and once in 1997, and I hope to be able to record them again before I retire. I’ve spent my most wonderful hours with Bach, not only as a player but also as an arranger, transcribing the Goldberg Variations.
‘I was so taken by the last recording Glenn Gould made of it: for me, that was something so different from everything I knew about Bach that I became almost obsessed with the piece. I wanted very much to be part of it. I thought a string trio would be a suitable combination and I started it as a pleasurable exercise for myself. I spent two months between tours and concerts arranging it, probably the most joyous two months I’ve ever spent with Bach. But now it’s taken on a life of its own: it’s become almost standard repertoire for string trios, and even a ballet was staged to it. I remember holding the score in my hand back in 1985, “Goldberg Variations for String Trio” published by Doblinger and the recording of it on Orfeo - it was something I’d done as a hobby and all of a sudden there it was!
That’s the wonderful thing about transcriptions: once you have finished it, your work is done. Being a performer, every concert is like a rehearsal for the next concert and it’s always a learning process. It gave me a serious impetus to do some more, and since I formed my chamber orchestra, I’ve done something around 50 transcriptions. I love transcribing; that’s really my hobby.’