Return to Homepage

On-line Book Review

YO TOMITA


FRONT COVER OVERVIEW

Dimension: 29.3 x 22 x 1.4 cm

TITLE I. S. Bakh. Clavierübung, Chast' IV: Ariya s variatsiyami BWV 988 / J. S. Bach, Clavierübung, Part IV: Aria with Variations BWV 988.  Podgotovka urteksta, vstupitel'naya stat'ya i kommentarii T. Shabalinoy / Urtext, edited with a preface and commentaries by T. Shabalina.
PUBL. DETAILS St. Petersburg: Musikverlag "Compozitor", 2006. 128p. Hard back.
ISBN 5-7379-0318-4
TO ORDER Compozitor • St Petersburg. 45 Bolshaya Morskaya, Saint Petersburg 190000, Russia
Tel (7-812-) 314-50-54, 312-04-97, 312-07-96; Fax (7-812-) 117-58-11; email: sales@compozitor.spb.ru
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION A new critical edition of the Goldberg Variations incorporating information from two specimens of the original edition hitherto not consulted by earlier editors.
WORKS COVERED BWV 988.
READERSHIP Students and scholars studying Bach's keyboard music.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION It makes an important contribution to Bach scholarship as it raises our knowledge of the source situation of the work to a new level.

T he edition under review is produced by the Russian musicologist, Tatiana Shabalina. The score, about the size of A4, is smaller than most editions -- 2.3 cm smaller than Henle in both directions, and about 4cm smaller than the NBA. Yet it is laid out more spaciously than either Henle or the NBA, so there are many more pages to accommodate additional systems.
Around a third of the movements have page turns in the middle of movements (viz. variations 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 16, 25, 26, 28, 29 and the final aria). This edition uses 72 pages, while Henle and NBA only use 52 and 46 pages respectively, which makes it one of the ‘thickest’ editions of the Goldberg Variations. The readability of the score is further enhanced by the generous use of cautionary accidentals: they are applied more sensibly than in the earlier Henle and NBA editions.

A strict editorial policy and critical approach appear to have been followed in the production of this edition. Using the NBA (edited by Christoph Wolff) as its critical basis, the editor arrives at her text not only by reassessing nine of the surviving specimens of the original edition published in 1741 as well as seven manuscript copies that were reported by the NBA, but also by examining recently-rediscovered two original prints that have not been used by the earlier editors: shelfmark ‘E 49’ in the Sergei Ivanovic Taneyev’s memorial collection, the S.I.Taneyev Scientific Music Library of the Moscow State Conservatoire (rediscovered by Shabalina and reported for the first time in this edition); and ‘XIV G 246’, the Czech Museum of Music in Prague (initially reported by G. Butler in 1988). The Czech copy, which was owned and annotated by J. F. Agricola, Bach’s student at the time of the publication of the Goldberg Variations, is particularly important as it contains unique additions that may have originated from Bach himself. In the commentary placed at the back of the edition, the editor describes all these sources in some depth, followed by the main text-critical issues encountered in the process of editing each movement.

Contents in brief

Facsimile

Preface

Aria with Variations BWV 988

Supplement 1

Supplement 2

Supplement 3

Commentaries

I. S. Bakh. Clavierübung, Chast' IV: Ariya s variatsiyami BWV 988 / J. S. Bach, Clavierübung, Part IV: Aria with Variations BWV 988. Podgotovka urteksta, vstupitel'naya stat'ya i kommentarii T. Shabalinoy / Urtext, edited with a preface and commentary by T. Shabalina

spacious layout


The text is practically error-free. The notating of rhythm in variation 14, bars 10 and 11 appears to be the only error, which, by editorial criteria, is considered a very high standard. (Cf. In the NBA and Henle, I have noted 5 and 6 errors respectively which require corrections.) The musical text is also clutter-free -- without fingerings or additional performance indications. There are some editorial additions appearing in square brackets, mainly rests which do not appear in the original edition of 1741, but which, in the editor’s view, Bach would have added, had he noticed the omissions. (Cf. The NBA adds many more of these, all in small symbols, while Henle handles them inconsistently.)

Associated with this is the issue of how one should handle inconsistencies in the original. Shabalina adheres to the original in many areas. In appoggiaturas, the note value of the symbol (expressed by its flag, viz. quaver/semiquaver/demisemiquaver) and the presence / absence of the slur are distinguished, with a few exceptional cases where she probably felt that there were errors on the part of the engraver. (Cf. NBA modifies it to appear with the accompanying slur consistently, while Henle is not consistent in this respect.) The beaming of quavers is another issue. As it often implies articulation, I welcome the editor’s decision to keep the broken-up beam in bar 31 of the opening aria. In Variation 14, bars 6-7, the beaming of quavers of the original edition, which seems to indicate a hemiola (---- --|-- ----), is also retained. Although not all of the original beaming is preserved (as many of the original quaver beams appear to have been applied arbitrarily), there is evidence of careful consideration in deciding whether to modify or retain some of these notational features.

When it comes to interpreting Bach’s intentions in questionable passages, the NBA goes very far in suggesting what Bach might have done if he revisited the work. Shabalina shows restraint in this respect (e.g. no performance marks are suggested in bars 15-16 of Variation 13 that very much look like Bach’s oversight if compared to the corresponding passage in bars 31-32 that has these articulation marks). However, most of these are appropriately discussed in the commentary, leaving the choice to the reader. Yet on a few occasions the reader would have benefited from further explanation, especially where ornaments appearing only in limited specimens of the original edition are concerned. The turn in Variation 20, bar 23 is most intriguing, as it appears only in the copy once owned by Agricola, a source which has never been discussed in a text-critical context. It has not been established whether the symbol is in Agricola’s hand, and if it is, whether it was added under Bach’s guidance or after he left Leipzig, so it should be dealt with in future research. Still, the edition makes an important contribution to Bach scholarship as it raises our knowledge of the source situation of the work to a new level.

There are two imprints of this edition: a hardback with 12 facsimile plates and three supplements: (1) Fourteen Canons, BWV 1087; (2) An early version of Variation 5; (3) A developed variant of Variation 16 (with a preface dated March 2006) and a revised paperback edition with fewer facsimile plates and a supplement (preface dated November 2006). By modern editorial standards, both the preface and commentary are exceptionally rich in musicological information.

NB. For this review, I have also consulted Bach’s Handexemplar kept in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, and noted many errors found in the facsimile edition published by Fuzeau. For details, click here. (YT)

Published online on 15 September 2008