Variation 25 has been called the "black pearl" at the center of the Goldberg Variations. In variation 25, we finally grapple with the darker emotions and suggestions that have appeared in the music only fleetingly. If the Goldbergs are a celebration of life, variation 25 is a reckoning with mortality, revealing pain but also providing comfort. In this episode, we hear from many different people, including pianist Jeremy Denk, Washington Post critic Philip Kennicott, scholar Eric Motley, pianist William Heiles, and dancer Melissa Toogood.
Recorded by Lowry Yankwich
Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Variation 24, Kevin Sun performing, Palo Alto, CA, March 14, 2018; Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Variation 21, Rachel Breen performing, New York, NY, November 15, 2017.
Musical recordings, used with permission:
Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Variation 25, Jeremy Denk performing, courtesy of Nonesuch Records, Inc.; Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Variation 22, Simone Dinnerstein performing, recorded at PS21 Chatham by Joel Patterson, Mountaintop Studios, July 22, 2017; Bach: Violin Partita no. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, Shunske Sato performing, recorded for the project "All of Bach" 24th June 2019 at the Lichtfabriek, Haarlem.