THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS
J.S. BACH Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Rachel Elizabeth Maley, piano
In February of 2014, shortly after deciding to learn and perform J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, I began to study Piet Mondrian's (1872-1944) abstract geometric paintings. At the same time, I became interested in the treatises of Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), widely considered the most influential figure in Western architecture. I found commonality between the "dynamic equilibrium" that Mondrian created and the striking mathematical blueprints of Palladian architecture.
I began to wonder: how would these artists describe the Goldberg Variations? Beyond the sheet music – itself a visual rendering of a sonic medium – what would a blueprint of this aria and thirty variations look like, not only structurally, but thematically and stylistically as well?
These considerations resulted in dozens of paintings and drawings created between February 2014 and the January performances. These visual pieces were also influenced, to varying degrees, by Gerhard Richter, Brice Marden, Mies van der Rohe, Glenn Gould, and countless others.
A chronological arrangement of these pieces depicts the shift in my understanding of the Goldbergs as I worked through their technical challenges, as well as the cyclical relationship between the music and visual art as each informed the development of the other. The exhibit given in January of 2015 is a treatment of themes and variations, each piece exploring how one melody, phrase, or idea can manifest itself in both conflicting and complementary iterations.