Johann Gottleib Goldberg (1727-56) studied as a young man with JS Bach and perhaps later with his son, WF Bach. JS Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” carry his name because Bach’s first biographer described Goldberg, a virtuoso harpsichordist, as playing them for his employer, Count Keyserling, to alleviate sleepless nights. Goldberg composed two contatas and a number of instrumental works, working within the Baroque style brought to new heights by Bach. G, like, Bach, was keenly interested in counterpoint, chromatic harmonies and rhythmic detail and variety. G’s music “looks back to the Baroque rather than forward to the Classical.” True to chamber music, the Sonatas have significant parts for each instrument. The Sonata in C minor, a delightful listen, is the most famous work, and adds a viola to the two violins and basso continuo, producing an almost orchestral feel. The 2nd mvmt’s counterpoint is breathtaking. G’s compositions always throw in some unexpected harmonies and chromatic spice to keep the listener engaged. Following Baroque convention, the last mvmt of each Sonata is patterned after a dance style.
Sonata in B-flat major. Adagio (2:07). Melancholy.
Allegro (2:30). Upbeat
Grave (0:53). Quite serious
Ciacona (4:10). Stately, then skipping happily, ending satisfied.
Sonata in g minor. Adagio (3:44). Dancing away sadness.
Allegro (4:38). I know how to play and be gay.
Tempo di Menuetto (3:43). Dancing by the Minuet rules, with a wink.
Sonata in c minor. Largo (2:54). I have an important tale to relate.
Allegro (3:33). A lovely fugue.
Grave (1:20). A fireplace fire barely lights and warms the room.
Giga (4:58). Happy, energetic fiddlers dance and fiddle away.
Sonata in a minor. Adagio (2:04). After dinner sherry and talk.
Allegro (2:05). An engaging fugue in minor key.
Alla Siciliana (2:29). A pastoral mood.
Allegro assai (6:36). A small group hurries through the village streets
Sonata in C major. Adagio (3:04). A castle set in green hills, seen on a quiet day.
Alla breve (2:41). Preparation for a celebratory dinner.
Largo (1:39). Fires burn low, as guests finish their wine.
Gigue (4:22). A bright morning dawns.