Goldberg Variations

IAN COLLINS King of Hearts, Norwich (Norfolk and NorwichFestival)


King of Hearts, Norwich (Norfolk and NorwichFestival)

Besides the two scheduled stars in this airing for Bach's sublime work, allegedly written to cure a patron's insomnia, there was a third that was wholly unscripted.

Masterly Matthew Halls was paired with a magnificent harpsichord - Alan Gotto's recreation of an instrument made in Lyons almost 300 years ago by Pierre Donzelague. (And bravo Angie Maddigan for a blissful lid painting.)

For those of us who know these 30 variations chiefly through Glenn Gould's recordings on piano - and who listen to our CDs mostly at night as we thought the composer intended - this was doubly a new treat.

Played on the two-keyboard instrument as Bach surely imagined, there was fresh depth and resonance to music that works on me like reflexology.

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Vowing to make the health service a top priority, PM Brown should inject Bach throughout the NHS. On a cloudy Sunday morning in Norwich, we all left happier and healthier than when we arrived.

And as Matthew played the first variation a blackbird in the courtyard sang back. Sang Bach, in fact.