An extract on #fenerbahceorg
This is a simple three-part contrapuntal piece in 2/4 time, two voices engage in constant motivic interplay over an incessant bass line. Each section has an alternate ending to be played on the first and second repeat.
Like the passepied, a Baroque dance movement, this variation is in 38 time with a preponderance of quaver rhythms. Bach uses close but not exact imitation: the musical pattern in one part reappears a bar later in another (sometimes inverted).
Each repeated section has alternate endings for the first or second time.
The sixth variation is a canon at the second: the follower starts a major second higher than the leader. The piece is based on a descending scale and is in 38 time. The harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick describes this piece as having "an almost nostalgic tenderness". Each section has an alternate ending to be played on the first and second repeat.
This is a canon at the fourth in 34 time, of the inverted variety: the follower enters in the second bar in contrary motion to the leader. The follower appears inverted in the second bar.
In the first section, the left hand accompanies with a bass line written out in repeated quarter notes, in bars 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. This repeated note motif also appears in the first bar of the second section (bar 17, two Ds and a C), and, slightly altered, in bars 22 and 23. In the second section, Bach changes the mood slightly by introducing a few appoggiaturas (bars 19 and 20) and trills (bars 2930).
This is a canon at the fifth in 24 time. Like Variation 12, it is in contrary motion with the leader appearing inverted in the second bar. This is the first of the three variations in G minor, and its melancholic mood contrasts sharply with the playfulness of the previous variation. Pianist Angela Hewitt notes that there is "a wonderful effect at the very end [of this variation]: the hands move away from each other, with the right suspended in mid-air on an open fifth. This gradual fade, leaving us in awe but ready for more, is a fitting end to the first half of the piece."
Glenn Gould said of this variation, "Its the most severe and rigorous and beautiful canon the most severe and beautiful that I know, the canon in inversion at the fifth. Its a piece so moving, so anguishedand so uplifting at the same timethat it would not be in any way out of place in the St. Matthews Passion; matter of fact, Ive always thought of Variation 15 as the perfect Good Friday spell."