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Joe Chindamo and Zoe Black take a new approach to Bach's Goldberg Variations

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At the end of this week, the Australian AlFi label will release a new recording entitled The New Goldberg Variations (currently available for pre-order from Amazon.com). While the title may strike many as provocative, it would be better to take this recording as an affirmation of the principle that there are always new ways to play the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. (For that matter, any composer worth playing at all should allow for new ways in which his/her music may be played.)

The story behind this album is that violinist Zoë Black, Assistant Leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for five years, asked pianist Joe Chindamo to "write a part for her" into Bach's BWV 988 set of 30 variations on an aria best known as the "Goldberg" variations. Chindamo is primarily a jazz pianist, which means that he is used to the idea that the act of making music is not necessarily strictly a matter of "decoding" a set of marks on paper. Nevertheless, he set himself the rule that he would "not alter a single note Bach wrote," meaning that what resulted amounted to the superposition of a part for violin on top of Bach's composition.

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