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Aurum Variations, 988

Aurum Variations, 988

Valletta Baroque Festival 2024


POW Ensemble Erik Bosgraaf (recorders) 

Carlo Maria Paulesu  (Baroque cello)

Tom Armitage (harpsichord)


Composed by Tom Armitage, Luc Houtkamp, and Erik Bosgraaf.


Aria - Erik Bosgraaf

Variatio 1: Toccata 1 - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 2: Trio - Tom Armitage

Variatio 3: Canon 1 - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 4: Trio - Tom Armitage

Variatio 5: Recorder solo - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 6: Canone alla seconda - Tom Armitage

Variatio 7: Harpsichord solo - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 8: Recorder and cello - Tom Armitage

Variatio 9: Blues - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 10: Fughetta - Tom Armitage

Variatio 11: Alla Messiaen 1 - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 12: Canone alla quarta - Tom Armitage

Variatio 13: Alla Greco - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 14: Trio - Tom Armitage

Variatio 15: Canon 2 - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 16: Overture - Tom Armitage

Variatio 17: Toccata 2 - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 18: Canone alla Sesta - Tom Armitage

Variatio 19: Alla Bach - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 20: Violoncello solo - Tom Armitage

Variatio 21: Erasure - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 22: Alla Breve - Tom Armitage

Variatio 23: Alla Messiaen 2 - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 24: Canone all’Ottava - Tom Armitage

Variatio 25: G minor complex - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 26: Trio - Tom Armitage

Variatio 27: Violoncello solo - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 28: Trills - Tom Armitage

Variatio 29: Improvvisazione - Luc Houtkamp

Variatio 30: Quodlibet - Tom Armitage

Aria- Erik Bosgraaf

Programme Notes


Bach undressed

It all started some years ago with an impromptu concert by Erik Bosgraaf, Tom Armitage, and Luc Houtkamp at Luc’s house in Senglea. Kenneth Zammit Tabona, the artistic director of the Valletta Baroque Festival, who was in the audience, promptly invited them to make their own version of the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988). The thirty variations and two arias were divided amongst the composers. Armitage did the even-numbered variations, and Houtkamp the odd-numbered variations, while Bosgraaf took the two arias. The instrumentation varies between trios, duos, and solo pieces for recorders, cello, and harpsichord. They decided that since Bach was such a great, iconic composer, it would be ridiculous to try to compose better variations than him. Rather, they analysed each variation and took its structure or style as a starting point, for example, when there was a fugue or a canon in the variation, they kept that musical form and recomposed the piece in their own way. Or they based a variation on a specific melody but altered the harmonic structure. In a way, the Goldberg has been undressed to its core elements and restyled. All variations were recomposed with high respect for the original, although some have been radically altered in melody or style, and others are utterly playful. For example, as Bach is known as a religious composer, Houtkamp chose to re-tune a few variations to modes of that other well-known religious composer, Olivier Messiaen. One recognises Messiaen, yet, Bach is still audibly present. The last variation, a “Quodlibet”, in which Bach quoted some contemporary melodies, was composed by Armitage in a similar way, using fragments of compositions from POW Ensemble composers such as Guy Harries and Luc Houtkamp. The title Aurum Variations, 988 refers to the Latin word meaning “glowing dawn”, which was used to describe gold in Ancient Rome, and to the BWV catalogue number of the Goldberg Variations. Aurum Variations, 988 Composed by Tom Armitage, Luc Houtkamp, and Erik Bosgraaf: the even numbers by Armitage and the uneven by Houtkamp. The two arias are composed by Erik Bosgraaf.

20 January 2024
Maritime Museum, Birgu
€20 - €30
Audience Level
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Valletta Baroque Festival 2024

Aurum Variations, 988

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