Aria to the Goldberg

In a rare moment of organization, I labeled part of a tape on which I found this recording of the Aria of the Goldberg Variations and the first variation as made on May 9, 2001. There’s no significance to the date other than the fact that I wrote it down. I would have been able to tell from the quality of the recording and the background noise (a leaf blower was prominent on the first part of the tape) that it was recorded back at my old apartment. So the sound quality isn’t superb. But there’s a few nice singers.

There’s a House Finch singing right off the top, and then a White-Throated Sparrow seems to be trying out his song here and there throughout the rest of the aria and the first variation. At the end of the first variation, a chorus of House Sparrows cheers. At least they sound cheery.

I found this House Finch picture while I was waiting to make the MP3 file.

Male House Finch

And a picture of a White-Throated Sparrow taken in the spring, when he’s more likely to be singing.

White-Throated Sparrow

Listening back to the Goldberg I’m reminded of the first time I saw Vladimir Feltsman play it at Symphony Center. Not because I sound anything like him, but how much easier it was to play the first variation after observing his fingering.

Back to the “chorus” at the end. Here’s a picture of a House Sparrow. These birds are maligned and disrespected in this country for their uncanny ability to live better among us than the native species. But it was their welcoming attitude toward me that got me started observing birds, and I can’t totally write them off. You can learn a lot about bird behavior, and maybe even human behavior, if you hang out with these guys for a while. They are the ultimate opportunists.

Male House Sparrow

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