Monday, 4 October 2010

The Beginning of the End of Enchantment

Towards the end of Before Sunrise (1995), as dawn comes to Vienna, Jesse (Ethan Hawke), the twentysomething American traveller, realises that his magical tryst with CĂ©line (Julie Delpy), the young French tourist he met the day before, is drawing to a close. "We're back in real time," he says, as the sound of a harpsichord playing Bach's Goldberg Variations drifts up from a basement apartment. It's the beginning of the end of enchantment.
from Sight & Sound, August 2004

I'm listening to the Angela Hewitt recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988). More accurately (and slightly masochistically) I'm listening to the 25th variation, the mysteriously viscous trickle of notes that the famous harpsichordist Wanda Landowska once, and with good reason, referred to as 'the black pearl' and used in the scene from Richard Linklater's film described above. I've been forced (for the second time this week, but for very different reasons) to go back and take a hard look at what I wrote about a film. Funnily, I stand by my verdict that it's
A wide-eyed youngster's film executed by a grown-up
although executed takes on a rather insidious double edge.

Here's Glenn Gould playing the piece:

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