Performing or listening to Bach's 'Goldberg Variations' is very much a journey in which form, continuity, charm, power, and logic all come full circle so that you end where you began. The work opens with the Aria, a Sarabande of charm and beauty, whose bass line sets the harmonic framework for the 30 variations that follow. The variations are grouped in threes, with each third variation being a canon. Like an opening flower, the canons begin at the distance of a first, and grow outward so that variation 27 is a canon at the ninth. This final canon has no bass line, almost as if it has been released from it's earthly grounding. The canons flow so effortlessly that it is easy to forget the strict confines of writing a canon on top of the pre-established pattern of harmonies from the theme. Between the canonic variations lie an astonishing assortment of dances, toccatas, and character pieces; each built on the harmonic foundations of the Aria. The journey reaches it's mid-point after variation 15 and begins the second half of the work with a French Overture. There are infinite possibilities for assigning number relationships and symbolism within the work. As intriguing as that may be, it is still the almost intuitive harmonic progression of the bass line from variation to variation that produces the magic and leads the traveler through the journey until variation 30 where Bach has given us a Quodlibet in place of a canon at the tenth. A Quodlibet is a combination of two popular tunes; in this case 'Ich bin so lang' nicht bei dir gewest' (I was astray from you for so long) and 'Kraut und Ruben' (Cabbages and Turnips.) The two songs are interwoven over the 32 notes of the bass line from the original Aria. This kaleidoscopic journey then returns to it's place of origin as the Aria returns with great serenity. The combination of perfect symmetry and complete unpredictability leaves us enriched in an almost tangible way. Our journey is complete, yet we are back where we began.