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Goldberg Variations BWV 988

Goldberg Variations BWV 988

The Three Palaces 2023

Carole Cerasi – Harpsichord 


  1. Aria

  2. Variatio 1 A 1 Clav.

  3. Variatio 2 A 1 Clav.

  4. Variatio 3 A 1 Clav. Canone All'Unisono

  5. Variatio 4 A 1 Clav.

  6. Variatio 5 A 1 Ovvero 2 Clav.

  7. Variatio 6 A 1 Clav. Canone Alla Seconda

  8. Variatio 7 A 1 Ovvero 2 Clav.

  9. Variatio 8 A 2 Clav.

  10. Variatio 9 A 1 Clav. Canone Alla Terza

  11. Variatio 10 A 1 Clav. Fughetta

  12. Variatio 11 A 2 Clav.

  13. Variatio 12 Canone Alla Quarta

  14. Variatio 13 A 2 Clav.

  15. Variatio 14 A 2 Clav.

  16. Variatio 15 A 1 Clav. Canone Alla Quinta. Andante

  17. Variatio 16 A 1 Clav. Ouverture

  18. Variatio 17 A 2 Clav.

  19. Variatio 18 A 1 Clav. Canone Alla Sesta

  20. Variatio 19 A 1 Clav.

  21. Variatio 20 A 2 Clav.

  22. Variatio 21 Canone Alla Settima

  23. Variatio 22 A 1 Clav. Alla Breve

  24. Variatio 23 A 2 Clav.

  25. Variatio 24 A 1 Clav. Canone All'Ottova

  26. Variatio 25 A 2 Clav.

  27. Variatio 26 A 2 Clav.

  28. Variatio 27 A 2 Clav. Canone Alla Nona

  29. Variatio 28 A 2 Clav.

  30. Variatio 29 A 1 Ovvero 2 Clav.

  31. Variatio 30 A 1 Clav. Quodlibet

  32. Aria Da Capo

Programme Note

The famous anecdote surrounding Bach’s Goldberg Variations concerns Count Keyserlingk, who had commissioned the work in 1741 for his protégé Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, in order to help overcome the count’s insomnia. This seems unlikely as Goldberg was only fourteen at the time, and the piece is hardly soporific!

The work was not, in fact, named ‘Goldberg Variations’ by Bach. The title page reads, in German: Keyboard exercise, consisting of an ARIA with diverse variations for harpsichord with two manuals. Composed for connoisseurs, for the refreshment of their spirit, by Johann Sebastian Bach […]. The aria, a sarabande in G major, is followed by 30 variations, ranging from simple two-part inventions to an arioso in minor key (the ‘Black Pearl’), punctuated, every third variation, by a canon. Variation 30, a Quodlibet, fuses together two popular songs: ‘I have so long been away from you’ and ‘Cabbages and turnips have driven me away’. The aria is then played again, to end this mammoth work in quiet serenity. 

The Goldbergs have become an iconic piece of the keyboard repertoire. Is it one of the greatest musical journeys, from which the player and audience emerge exhausted but elated? Is it Bach’s testament to his mastery of both dance and polyphony? Is it one of the most lyrical and lovely works ever composed? Is it to be listened to with head bowed in reverence, or feet tapping in excitement? The wonder of this piece, of course, is that it is all those things, and each listener will find his own way to marvel at Bach’s genius. Carole Cerasi Carole Cerasi has established herself at the very front rank of early keyboard players and recording artists in her field. Known for her expressive and virtuosic interpretations, fluidity of phrasing, and refined touch, she has given recitals throughout Europe as well as in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Colombia, Israel, Canada, and the States.


Her CDs have won many major awards (Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, Gramophone Awards; C.P.E. Bach and Thomas Tomkins, Diapason d'Or de lAnnée; J.S. Bach and the Möller Manuscript, Diapason dOr de l'Année and runner-up Gramophone Awards; Scarlatti, runner-up Gramophone Awards). In 2018 Metronome Recordings released her 10 CD set of François Couperins complete harpsichord works, which received a Diapason dOr.


A highly respected teacher, besides her work as Professor of Harpsichord and Fortepiano at the Royal Academy of Music, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and the Yehudi Menuhin School, Carole is a much sought-after pedagogue by talented students of the younger generation. She is also in demand as a member of international jury panels - this summer at the MA Bruges Harpsichord Competition. She has recently been named harpsichord professor at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague.


Carole comes from a Sephardic family based in Istanbul, and spent her childhood in Stockholm, Geneva, and Jerusalem; her mother tongue is French. 

5 November 2023
Gran Salon, Archaeology Museum, Valletta
Audience Level
Suitable for All
Other Dates
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The Three Palaces 2023

Goldberg Variations BWV 988

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