Natalie Clein, Malcolm Proud, Xenia Pestova Bennett and Ed Bennett to Perform this Weekend at Online 'Goldberg' Festival

Natalie Clein – performing as part of Music for Galway's MidWinter Festival this weekend.

Natalie Clein, Malcolm Proud, Xenia Pestova Bennett and Ed Bennett to Perform this Weekend at Online 'Goldberg' Festival

Music for Galway's annual winter festival to focus on four different versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Music for Galway will host its annual Midwinter Festival online this weekend (22–24 January), beginning at 8pm on Friday.

This year’s festival focuses on four different version of Bach’s famous 1741 Goldberg Variations, a work comprised of an opening aria and 30 variations, written originally for harpsichord towards the end of his life. The work has been recorded many times, most famously by Canadian pianist Glenn Gould in 1955 and again in 1981, the year before his death.

The Midwinter Festival will open with renowned Irish harpsichordist Malcolm Proud performing the original version of the work on Friday evening from his home in Kilkenny. All concerts will be available to ticket holders for 48 hours after streaming.

On Saturday at 8pm, live from from St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway city, pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett and her husband, composer Ed Bennett (electronics), will perform Austrian composer Karlheinz Esssl’s Gold.Berg.Werk. Gold.Berg.Werk, written between 2013 and 2016, is a twenty-first-century response to Bach’s work by adding electronics between the variations and altering the order of some of the variations. Esssl collaborated closely with Pestova Bennett on this new version for piano and live electronics. 

On Sunday afternoon at 3pm from Berlin, British cellist Natalie Clein, violinist Maia Cabeza and violist Sergey Malov will perform a string trio arrangement of Bach’s work by Russian violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky‘You can hear the voices so clearly interacting with each other,’ says Artistic Director for Music for Galway Finghin Collins about the arrangement. ‘I heard Sasha Sitkovetsky playing it at the Westport Chamber Music Festival in 2019 and it spurred me on to programme it for our Midwinter Festival in 2021.’ 

The festival will close on Sunday night with a screening of Bruno Monsaingeon’s film The Goldberg Variations – Glenn Gould Plays Bach. The film, shot over a period of five years from 1976 to 1981, documents Gould’s re-recording of the Variations and includes the pianist in conversation with Monsaingeon.

Speaking about the weekend programme, Collins said:   

I think it will be fascinating to hear different versions of the Goldberg Variations four times over one weekend…  It’s such a rich work that it will generously repay such repeated attention, allowing people to make comparisons between the different versions. The festival will be streamed live for the first time ever so a global audience can go online and savour the intimate and enjoyable experience of our Midwinter Festival ‘Goldberg’. 

Tickets for Goldberg are €12 per concert, €8 for the film documentary, or €40 for a festival ticket. Visit 

Published on 20 January 2021

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