M: Yes, guilty as charged! It was me wanting to do the string trio version of the Variations in the first place so I forced you to play the viola, Antti... but I think it was you who came up with the idea about Sergey and violoncello da spalla, wasn't it?
A: Oh yes! Well, the idea was simply to bring this piece into a more chamber music context - compared to solo instrument versions - with the arrangements that were available, and since I knew about Sergey︎'s affair with the spalla, putting it on stage in the series of the Finnish Baroque Orchestra was a natural platform for trying it out. And it worked!
M: It really did - thanks to Sergey who was brave enough to like the idea from the very beginning! You did like it, didn't you, Sergey...?
S: Oh I loved this adventurous idea! Widening the spalla repertoire in this way was exactly what I was searching for. After finding out that very probably it was an instrument Bach used himself for playing and composing, integrating it into the "Goldberg-Variations" made perfect sense. Besides, it offered a chance to form a string trio with two other violinists (laughs), for chamber music making full of empathy and humour, plus I always felt at home in Finland so... I was definitely out of excuses.
A: Good for us! So after a year of performing and exploring the piece we boarded the "Allegro" train from Helsinki and went to Sergey's birth town Saint-Petersburg to record it.
M: That was great fun...
S: And afterwards we met in Vienna for a photo shoot with Julia Wesely to make our own variation of the famous anecdote about the Russian ambassador count Hermann Carl von Keyserlingk and young student of Bach - Johann Gottlieb Goldberg - who served to amuse the ambassador during his sleepless nights by playing the variations.
M: ...which was also an experience! Boy, it was cold out there, just saying... But back to the music; everybody being familiar with Dmitry Sitkovetsky's string trio version we started with that with open minds and hearts. And it worked actually surprisingly well!
A: True. The cello part being played on spalla just made the sound and voices even more homogenous. M: But then you, Sergey, proposed to check out the version by Federico Sarudiansky.
S: Well yes, it offered some gracious solutions that were nearer to the original in some of the variations.
M: So we followed the mix-and-match-idea and I think the bits we chose spice up the whole quite nicely!
A: And there are also some solutions of our own to be heard on the final product...
M: Yes, but those are to be spotted by the listeners!
S: For true fans only...!