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Jeremy Denk vs. The Goldberg Variations: Contrasting Variations

April 3, 2012 Bach's Goldberg Variations are filled with contrasts. Contrasts that swirl inside the head of pianist Jeremy Denk who, seated at his own living room Steinway, muses about how Bach built two of his most opposite variations — the simplistic No. 18 and the brooding No. 25.

Bach's Goldberg Variations are filled with contrasts. Contrasts that swirl inside the head of pianist Jeremy Denk who, seated at his own living room Steinway, muses about how Bach built two of his most opposite variations — the simplistic No. 18 and the brooding No. 25.

No. 18 is Denk's sentimental favorite, so amazing, he says, in how Bach "finds this kind of profundity in something that is so basic so childlike." On the other end of the spectrum, in which everything loses its innocence completely, is the 25th variation. Here we get "dropped into some weird abyss," as Bach fills notes in the bass line that maximize shock value. There's a sense "that everything's being torn into bits."

Credits

Produced by Mito Habe-Evans and Tom Huizenga; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Production Assistance: Amanda Ameer and Anatasia Tsioulcas; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Keith Jenkins

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