Bach's Goldberg Variations Part Ⅱ

So, practice on the Goldberg Variations goes on.

One of the reasons that it seems never-ending is that there are so many ways to interpret each variation. There are almost no markings in the score that Bach wrote which means that tempo, dynamics, style are all up to the performer. It truly tests the player's imagination which is part of the fun but also often leaves a dilemma.

I have 4 CDs of the Goldberg Variations - one being the historic 1955 recording by Glenn Gould which I love - and they all are tremendously inspirational. I am in awe of all of them but it's interesting how I still have to search for how "I" want to play them. I have stolen some styles from some of them but there are some variations that none of them seem to be right for me. The trouble is it's not easy to find the way which I want to play. So, the search continues!

One of the things that has come out of learning this piece in depth is that I can truly appreciate the greatness of it. I recently had a chance to hear a friend perform it in concert and could really enjoy every single variation in detail - note to note. It was a very interesting experience to hear the piece so differently and also confirm how "I" interpret it.

Although it seems like a never-ending process I feel very privileged to be able to work on such an amazing piece.

I read this quote just yesterday which seemed very fitting for how I feel about working on these variations.Giacometti puts it in words beautifully.

“Everything gains in grandeur every day, becomes more and more unknown, more and more beautiful. The closer I come, the grander it is, the more remote it is.” Alberto Giacometti

Bach's Goldberg Variations Part Ⅰ

One of the projects that I had started when this pandemic began, was to really tackle Bach's Goldberg Variations. "The Goldberg Variations" are a set of 30 variations set on an Aria theme. It takes over 40 minutes to play it through without repeats and nearly an hour and a half if one were to do all the repeats! It's truly amazing how Bach was able to conjure up so many ideas from one single theme.

Because it was meant to be played on a double keyboard harpsichord it is actually technically quite tricky to play on the piano. Each variation is quite short though (1~4 minutes long) so I had been playing it as a warm up piece for ages, choosing a few of the variations before starting my main practice.

Because it's such a vast work (46 pages of music just to give you an idea) and quite hard to bring up to performance level I had never considered playing it in a concert. Therefore I had never really attempted to really go into depth with it nor memorize it.

But when the pandemic started and I had to cancel all my concerts and my teaching and was stuck at home, I decided this would be the time that I should attempt to bring it up to a level which I would be satisfied with. This has been a true blessing as it really kept me occupied! AND it still does!

The more I work on it, the more there is to do! It seems never-ending!


I cannot believe that it's already February! I thought that 2021 had just started!
I don't know why, but I'm finding it really hard to write my blog although there are so many things that I think of writing about.

Sadly this pandemic doesn't seem to be going away soon so even though we started 2021 with a great deal of hope, I guess we just have to continue to live with it until we feel safer.

We can't be grateful enough for the doctors and nurses, medical staff and essential workers who continue working for us under immense pressure. In Japan, we haven't had active ways in showing our gratitude which I'm quite sad about. Wished we had a way to show how much we appreciate them like in cities in the US and countries in Europe.

Hoping for a Happy 2021!

Happy New Year!!!

I know that most people are just glad that 2020 is over. Can't think of a year when the "New Year" was so welcomed. Who would've thought that 2020 would turn out like it did!!!What a year! Just hoping that 2021 will be better year for all of us!

Wishing everyone a healthy and peaceful year to come!

A Prayer

How the world has changed...
Who would have thought that 2020 would turn out like this? And to see that our whole world could be this fragile.

Japan has been in a "state of emergency' for nearly two months. It was a sort of "loose" lock down but the number of new cases have gone down so most of the prefectures (except for 5 ) have started to open up although very gradually.
I've been talking with many friends in Britain and America where the situation is still not good and it is hard to see when this will all end. I have very close friends working as doctors which is even more worrying and I pray that they are safe and are able to cope with what they have to face every day.

I wanted to show my gratitude to all the brave people working in the hospitals and everyone who have been working to make it possible for our societies to keep on functioning.
Here is Jacob Arcadelt's "Ave Maria" as a prayer in hope that you are all kept safe and that there will be peace with you.

Thank you, thank you, for all your work.

Happy 2020!

Wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful New Year!
May there be less hatred and more love around the world...

Merry Christmas!

Wishing every one a very blessed Christmas!!

Can't believe that my last post was New Years'!!!
I will try to be better with my posts next year!!


Wishing everyone a very peaceful and Happy New Year!
My theme for this year is going to be "Joy".
I hope that it can be paired with "Hope" for all those in difficult situations...

Super Summer Ⅲ Getting ready!

3 days in Boston and then back to London.
Now,at last,I have a few days where my diary is totally blank. Before coming to London,I was thinking I could use these days for visiting friends in Oxford and the Isle of Wight,or go to the theatre or go to an exhibition,etc,etc.
canal%20boat_resize.jpgThen I suddenly realized, I had so much to do which I hadn't even thought of!!!!
My BIG birthday was coming up and I hadn't really thought it through!
I had hired a canal boat for two hours but hadn't done anything else!!!
So, the next 3 days were spent running around London,finding things to make this party work! I have to say,though it was a lot of work, I really had a great time!

In Japan,after you're 20,we don't really celebrate birthdays. It's impossible to find fun but tasteful things for adult birthday parties in Japan so just looking around the various party shops for decorations,props and party goods was so much fun. I don't think I'll get this excited about my 60th so I think it was good that I put in my time and effort for this 50th birthday celebration. (Only wished I knew more about what options I had for catering so I could have maybe sorted that out even before leaving Japan. Now I know, so anyone looking for advice,please ask me!)

Super Summer Ⅱ!

After our lunchtime concert,it was at last time to relax and Michiko had invited our families to a wonderful restaurant along the Thames. It was such a hip and sophisticated place with beautiful views and delicious food. Really feeling like I'm in London now!
Now the holiday begins!

The very next day I flew to Boston. This was an unexpected trip as I had suddenly decided to go just a few weeks before. I went to visit my teacher from primary school whom I have visited every year now for the past 6~7 years. I had missed seeing her in the spring,which is when I usually go, as she was unwell. But in June, I had heard that she was getting better and by the beginning of July she had recovered well and seemed strong enough to see me so that's what I did!
Mrs.Donvan%20%2718_resize.jpgI was SO happy to see her again and we were able to share two precious days together this time. She was her cheerful and wonderful self,full of wit and wisdom and kindness. Every time I see her she amazes me and I always am inspired by her spirit. I am so lucky to have had her be part of my life since a very young age. I am so grateful to know her.

My cousin and her partner also came to Boston from NY to see me so when I wasn't seeing my teacher I was spending time with them. It was so nice to come back from my visits to my teacher to see friendly faces at the hotel and be able to talk about my day.
My Boston trip was quite a tight fit in my already planned out European holiday but I am so glad that I found a way to make it possible. Seeing my teacher after so many months of worry was definitely one of the highlights of this summer!