20 September 2015

A daring feat

It's an audacious undertaking, to write a new line for violin to accompany the Bach's Goldburg variations. Zoe Black had asked Joe Chindamo if he could write her a part to play. There are arrangements of Bach and others that take various contrapuntal lines and separate them out for various instruments parts to play, but this is retaining Bach's notes. It's more daring to take Joe's approach: to write accompaniment in the style of Bach but, it seemed to my ears, with the awareness and influence of following periods, not least jazz. But then jazz is often mentioned with Bach. In performance, Joe played the original Bach score on piano; Zoe played Joe's composed counterpoint / response / improv. Joe spoke of this as "akin to introducing another character into one of Shakespeare's plays" and interestingly, that as he worked, it seemed to him as if the "original keyboard part began to posthumously respond to the violin". I could imagine that, given the immense and daring task he had undertaken. So how successful was it? It's a mammoth work of real commitment and love. The violin part is immense and virtuosic. I sometimes lost the mutating harmonies of the baroque amongst some startling violin lines, and this was partly a matter of balance. I wondered if performance on period instruments (I'm pretty sure this was on modern instruments) might have melded the tones more and spelt the era and highlighted the counterpoint. I didn't catch all the counterpoint on the night, but listening to some snippets now on the net, it seems deliciously true and appropriate to JS to my ears. Great playing on both parts and a stunning compositional achievement by Joe. I'm in awe.

Joe Chindamo (piano, composition) and Zoe Black (violin) performed Goldberg Inventions on the stage at Llewellyn Hall. Goldberg Inventions is Bach's original and complete Goldberg variations with a newly composed counterpart for violin.

Listen to snippets of Goldberg inventions

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