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The God of Music And His Goddess, Angela Hewitt: The Goldberg Variations
By Michael Moriarty
Chromaticism is the simplest and most easily accessible example of Arnold Schoenberg’s very 20th Century, 12 tone school of music.
However – and rather like Alban Berg’s harmonic distillation of Schoenberg’s principles – J. S. Bach, in the 25th variation of his Goldberg Variations for keyboard, published exactly 200 years before I even came into the world, was already 200 years before his time.
And his time?
Johann Sebastian Bach displayed, throughout his life, the most complete and unsurpassable understanding of diatonic harmony to ever reach the Earth!
He actually seemed to have invented all of diatonic harmony.
Last night, at the Chan Centre, here in British Columbia, Canada, Angela Hewitt shared with us the ecstasies of her lifelong love affair with J. S. Bach.
All 30 of the increasingly mysterious powers within Bach’s Goldberg Variations engulfed us.
We, the very full audience of a Canadian treasure called the Chan Centre, literally surrounded our heroine with that theatre’s 360-degree balcony.
From her perch before her grand piano, Ms. Hewitt brought out a very Shakespearian cast of thirty characters.
Yes, each variation was, for myself at any rate, an actor or actress within the undeniable drama of The Goldberg Variations and Ms. Hewitt’s directorial vision of their identities.
Bach was, of course, as he always can, telling a rather long and complex story about a range of human experiences.
The most startling variation or “character” came 25th in line.
This 25th variation unquestionably proves J.S. Bach’s prophetic divinity.
Yes, he is not only a god of music.
Bach is, for myself, at any rate, The god of music.
Within his large form, the B Minor Mass, or small form, his Two-Part Inventions, an almost terrifying perfection exists.
A kind of infinite divinity that cannot be found anywhere else nor within any other composer.
Within what might be usually called by jazz musicians, “The Bridge of Variation #25”, J. S. Bach breaks all his own normal rules about chord progressions.
He basically tells all following, truly serious composers that, “Yes! This is the only possible direction I’ve left for you to go in!”
Somehow, the Master knew that most composers still wallowing in purely diatonic harmonies would become painfully predictable.
Only he, the God of diatonic harmony, could honor the disciplines within the scientifically inevitable chord progressions that the enharmonic system demands, but without being the least bit predictable.
No one knows this more completely than Angela Hewitt.
If she is appearing anywhere near you?!
Rush to see and hear her!
You won’t regret it, I assure you.
Why two of the greatest keyboard exponents of J.S. Bach have both been Canadian: Angela Hewitt and Glenn Gould?!
Ya got me!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at email@example.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.