Playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations is like performing Hamlet. Everyone knows the lines, they have their favourite adaptation (the Kenneth Branagh version, or Ethan Hawke?), and they’re always hanging on to see how you deliver that “To be, or not to be.”
Keyboardist Erin Helyard has been practising the seminal works for twenty years, and will be performing them for the first time with the Australian Chamber Orchestra this August – on the harpsichord for which they were written.
“There’s a wonderful phrase by the writer Harold Bloom – ‘the anxiety of influence’. You feel the weight of all these amazing artists who have trod that path before you … I definitely feel that anxiety there,” says Helyard.
“For most music lovers it’s become famous through the two recordings of Glenn Gould, and rightfully so. It’s also been in film, the aria in Silence of the Lambs ... It’s always brought up to symbolise purity or some sort of simplicity.”
And in addition to that, Hannibal (2001), Before Sunrise (1995), Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere (2010), Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), The English Patient (1996) and Solaris (2002).