A mountain of gold

To listen simply press on the audio player below
(you can also download the file –
click on the three dots on the right):


The variations played as they were intended, on the two manual harpsichord:

1.Aria 0:00
2.Variation 1. a 1 Clav. 4:35
3.Variation 2. a 1 Clav. 6:23
4.Variation 3. Canone all’Unisono. a 1 Clav. 8:06
5.Variation 4. a 1 Clav. 10:39
6.Variation 5. a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. 11:40
7.Variation 6. Canone alla Seconda. a 1 Clav. 13:09
8.Variation 7. a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. al tempo di Giga 14:20
9.Variation 8. a 2 Clav. 16:02
10.Variation 9. Canone alla Terza. a 1 Clav. 18:08
11.Variation 10. Fughetta. a 1 Clav. 20:28
12.Variation 11. a 2 Clav. 21:57
13.Variation 12 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Quarta in moto contrario 24:07
14.Variation 13. a 2 Clav. 26:22
15.Variation 14. a 2 Clav. 30:40
16.Variation 15. Canone alla Quinta. a 1 Clav.: Andante 33:02
17.Variatio 16. Ouverture. a 1 Clav. 37:46
18.Variation 17. a 2 Clav. 40:11
19.Variation 18. Canone alla Sesta. a 1 Clav. 41:53
20.Variation 19. a 1 Clav. 43:28
21.Variation 20. a 2 Clav. 44:42
22.Variation 21. Canone alla Settima 47:11
23.Variation 22. a 1 Clav. alla breve 50:06
24.Variation 23. a 2 Clav. 51:27
25.Variation 24. Canone all’Ottava. a 1 Clav. 53:39
26.Variation 25. a 2 Clav. Adagio 56:10
27.Variation 26. a 2 Clav. 1:04:37
28.Variation 27. Canone alla Nona. a 2 Clav. 1:06:30
29.Variation 28. a 2 Clav. 1:08:06
30.Variation 29. a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. 1:10:13
31.Variation 30. a 1 Clav. Quodlibet 1:12:20
32.Aria da Capo e Fine 1:14:25


Glenn Gould’s 1981 performance of the first 7 variations. His tempo for the opening Aria is very different: what do you think of it?

# 0:00 Aria # 2:53 Variation 1 # 4:03 Variation 2
# 4:53 Variation 3 # 6:24 Variation 4
# 7:14 Variation 5 # 7:50 Variation 6 # 8:31 Variation 7


András Schiff – a fine performance and watch the hands in variation 8!


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6 thoughts on “A mountain of gold

  1. My favourite keyboard piece ever and music used in just about my favourite film with themes of love and loss, “The English Patient.”
    Thank you for explaining Bach’s brilliant mechanics. I learnt a lot

  2. An invaluable guide to how it all fits together. Thank you, Chris. On the tempo of the opening Aria, I think Gould must have played it slower as he got older (and more eccentric?). I have a live recording of him playing it at Salzburg in 1959, when his tempo was close to Andras Schiff’s. It’s a Sarabande, isn’t it, so I suppose it should feel like a slow dance.

  3. I suppose the tempo of Gould’s Aria is quite slow, even slower than Andreas Staier on the harpsichord but I really liked Gould’s performance. It’s totally absorbing and I noted that this was just a year before he died. Thanks Chris for another very informative and enjoyable session.

  4. Loved listening to Bach,took me back to my childhood when my music teacher gave me Bach pieces to practice every week!

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