A work in A minor that appears in the Andreas Bach Book
is the Aria Variata ‘alla Maniera Italiana’
, BWV989. It probably dates from 1709, so is a relatively early work. In many ways it is similar to the organ chorale partitas (the theme here also has a chordal setting), but there are also things it shares with the ‘Goldberg’ Variations. The aria, for instance, is repeated at the end, although in BWV989 it is not an exact reiteration but rather another variation (the last, No X) with some slight changes. Still, it is moving to return to the mood of the opening, especially after the brilliance of the preceding two variations. Also like the ‘Goldberg’, the variations are based on the harmonic outline rather than on the opening melody. Each variation is in binary form (two sections, both repeated) and often requires some appropriate ornamentation to sustain the interest. Several different versions of the theme exist, the one in the Andreas Bach Book
being by far the most richly ornamented. Not wanting to omit that one, yet liking the plainer outline of the theme for its initial statement, I include it on the repeat. There are some extremely wide stretches for the hands (in fact not just wide but impossible), making us think that perhaps it was written for some kind of pedal harpsichord. A few tempo indications have survived, but one in particular is a bit strange (largo for Variation I which seems crazy given the sparse material and rhythmic motive). In the end, musical common sense has to be used.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2004