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Holloway, RobinGilded Goldbergs op. 86 (1992-97) 100'
freely re-composed for two pianos after J.S.Bach

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Finella, Cambridge
various pianists in relay

Composer's Notes  
My elaboration for two pianos of the complete Goldberg Variations must surely be the most extended and elaborate act of “re-composition” in an epoch where, ever since Ravel’s Couperin, Strauss’s Lully and Stravinsky’s Pergolesi, this fascinating aspect of music-making has bloomed ever more abundantly. J.S. Bach with his foundations in mighty structure and his head in the starry heavens, has of course been the principal focus: Busoni, Schönberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky again, Koechlin, Grainger, Nancarrow, Kurtág are only a few of the illustrious masters who have paid their homage in their various ways.

Beginning and ending with simple transcription, the Gilded Goldbergs open out in ever-widening curves of exploration—of melodic, harmonic, polyphonic enrichment, of stylistic transformation and pianistic techniques. The result is a virtual encyclopaedia of twentieth-century practice, a tribute to modernism (and romanticism) as much as to Bach, embracing an emotional range from melancholic introspection to crashing triumph, extending en route to satire, burlesque, post-modern “poly-stylism”, cubism, futurism, bravura, and peasant bonhomie. Yet because every individual number is dedicated to a friend “pictured within”, the whole enterprise is infused with the tender warmth of domestic music-making.

—Robin Holloway, 1998

Reproduction Rights:
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.

Recommended Recording
Jennifer Micallef (pft) / Glen Inanga (pft)
Hyperion CDA67360 (2 CDs)

"Holloway’s fanciful new construction using Bach’s bricks inspires deep admiration"
Chamber Music Magazine

"A marvellous work … Whatever your CD priorities to date, this one surely has to fly straight to the top of your wants list"

"Stimulating and immensely enjoyable music … The discs have seldom been off my player in recent days"
International Record Review

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News stories for this title :

  • Holloway gilds Bach: new Hyperion disc wins acclaim

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