Why is Gould so great?

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Why is Gould so great?

Post by slofstra » Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:10 pm

Every time I play another CD from the Gould 'Original Jacket' CD set I marvel. I can't analyze pianism and say what it is that makes the music sparkle the way Gould's does. So what is it about Gould's playing that is so magical? I don't think there's really anything quite like it, and I always get a tremendous lift and feel myself transported away as I settle into the easy chair and the music wafts out of the speakers. Sure, other pianists do this for me as well, but with Gould it seems to be the case almost every time. To clarify, I've just been sampling randomly here and there, perhaps 10 CDs or so at this point, and I've not been disappointed yet. (And I did have another 10 or so CDs of his before I purchased this set).
Last edited by slofstra on Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 16900
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Why is Gould so great?

Post by Lance » Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:30 pm

slofstra wrote:Every time I play another CD from the Gould 'Original Jacket' CD set I marvel. I can't analyze pianism and say what it is that makes the music sparkle the way Gould's does. So what is it about Gould's playing that is so magical? I don't think there's really anything quite like it, and I always get a tremendous lift and feel myself transported away as I settle into the easy chair and the music wafts out of the speakers. Sure, other pianists do this for me as well, but with Gould it seems to be the case almost every time. To clarify, I've just been sampling randomly here and there, perhaps 10 CDs or so at this point, and I've not been disappointed yet. (And I did have another 10 or so CDs of his before I purchased this set).
Well Henry, I quite agree with you. There are many Gould fans out there but I have also run into quite a few that are hostile with his playing, especially of Bach, so detractors he has as well. [But then so does the legendary Wanda Landowska!] And it was precisely Bach that captured my interest in the pianist. I think the attraction to his playing is his execution ... which is razor sharp, plus the fact that he truly does know what he wants to do with the music and his is an highly individual way. I guess the word is "articulation." It's absolutely impeccable and breathtaking. But it goes beyond Bach. His Beethoven concertos are very special, and of course, the Brahms concerto he recorded with Leonard Bernstein, which is highly irregular in its tempi, and even came with an apology from Bernstein before the concerto was played. Gould's performance of the Schuman Piano QUARTET (with the Juilliard Quartet members) is one of the best I've ever heard and Gould was not known for his Romantic repertoire. No question, Gould is a highly polished gem insofar as great musicians are concerned. I think he's changed the listening habits of many people, and many for the good as well. I was honored to visit his gravesite in Toronto a few years ago. He died far too young.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Post by Ken » Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:33 am

The aspect of Gould's playing that I appreciate the most, and which I feel is the element that separates it from that of other pianists, is its intimacy. Gould, no matter what one can say about his artistic leanings, was a highly 'personal' pianist. Add to his almost mathematical precision the thumping of his foot and his chronic humming and you the listener have almost a direct window into the mind of the artist.

And though he can come off as brash to some modern ears, I tend to believe that his playing style is often truer to history than, say, the playing of a Barenboim. Bach wouldn't have called for rubato or legato in "Das Wohltempierte Klavier", so why should one play it that way? Likewise, Beethoven was adamant about fast tempi, and Gould often adopts this stance.

I have recently been listening to Gould's take on the Brahms Intermezzi, and I am astounded in the way he is able to bring forward the personality behind the music. Some would deem his treatment of these works as insensitive, but I don't feel that Brahms intended the Intermezzi to be nocturnes. I'm sure many of you have heard the famous Edison cylinder recording of Brahms playing one of his Hungarian Dances in a bouncy and rather unmodern style; this and other anectodal reports that I have read lead me to believe that Brahms would have appreciated the character that an artist like Gould would put into his solo piano works.
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

BWV 1080
Posts: 4451
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 10:05 pm

Post by BWV 1080 » Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:42 pm

Specifically in regards to Bach, Gould created a pianistic style that captures aspects of the music that are sometimes lost with the instrument. The basic problem with Bach on the piano is that the music was written for Harpsichord which lacks several dimensions that the piano offers. The issue then is that Bach on the piano either sounds plain and somewhat sterile, lacking dynamics, pedaling etc or distorts the music by adding these attributes inappropriately. Gould created a style of Bach playing that preserved the integrity of the music but still pushes the piano and takes advantage of its capabilities.

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:58 pm

Beats me. I never caught the wave.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Wallingford
Posts: 4517
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:31 pm
Location: Brush, Colorado

Post by Wallingford » Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:58 pm

His was a mind that virtually towered above all others....a renaissance man (broadcaster, writer, actor for his own radio shows), and penned his own liner notes.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:12 pm

Wallingford wrote:His was a mind that virtually towered above all others....a renaissance man (broadcaster, writer, actor for his own radio shows), and penned his own liner notes.
If you say so.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Imperfect Pitch
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

Post by Imperfect Pitch » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:20 pm

slofstra - Have you heard his recording of Beethoven's Symphony #6 (arr. Liszt)? It's a hidden gem within Gould's discography. Taken from a live CBC radio broadcast in the late 1960's, I believe.

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17635
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:44 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Beats me. I never caught the wave.
Rent the movie 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould, you can see for yourself how great/mad/genius/nuts he was... :wink:

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:27 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Beats me. I never caught the wave.
Rent the movie 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould, you can see for yourself how great/mad/genius/nuts he was... :wink:
Oh, I have it. I've seen it many times and enjoyed it greatly. I still haven't caught the wave. To me he was just eccentric. You know how people faun on eccentricity. Do they know genius, or merely gape at eccentricity? You decide. I'll decide. We'll all assign him where we think he belongs.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Imperfect Pitch
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

Post by Imperfect Pitch » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:53 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Do they know genius, or merely gape at eccentricity?
Is Earth round, or is it flat? It's round; and here, they know genius.

Wallingford
Posts: 4517
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:31 pm
Location: Brush, Colorado

Post by Wallingford » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:39 am

Wow...that's being charitable to a fault. :shock:
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:20 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Beats me. I never caught the wave.
Rent the movie 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould, you can see for yourself how great/mad/genius/nuts he was... :wink:
Oh, I have it. I've seen it many times and enjoyed it greatly. I still haven't caught the wave. To me he was just eccentric. You know how people faun on eccentricity. Do they know genius, or merely gape at eccentricity? You decide. I'll decide. We'll all assign him where we think he belongs.
I saw and enjoyed the film, but I personally have to file him under "eccentric". I admire his Bach technique (although I prefer others' interp.) but I'm not enamored with his recordings of other composers, especially Mozart.

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

BWV 1080
Posts: 4451
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 10:05 pm

Post by BWV 1080 » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:57 am

Its likely that Gould's eccentricity was related to hiim having an autistic spectrum disorder

Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Post by Ken » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:07 pm

Imperfect Pitch wrote:slofstra - Have you heard his recording of Beethoven's Symphony #6 (arr. Liszt)? It's a hidden gem within Gould's discography. Taken from a live CBC radio broadcast in the late 1960's, I believe.
Fantastic recording; I much prefer it, in fact, to most of the orchestral versions that I have heard.

Don't blame me, I'm Canadian.
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:08 pm

Nice responses and insights. I guess I don't think much about Gould the person when I listen to him play. His eccentricities are over-rated to my mind - I think he was believed to have Asperger's syndrome.

Ironically, I haven't been listening to any of his Bach lately but choosing other things, some of which I've never seen anywhere else - e.g. Hindemith's Sonatas.

I would consider Gould to be of a Classical temperament, not a Romantic. A pure aesthetician very much alive in the aesthetic world of music and looking outward from it. The 80 CDs not only tend to Classical and neo-Classical (or Modern) but tend towards solo work. Some chamber music - apparently he had a falling out with the Juilliard Quartet late in his career, and there's not a lot of work with orchestras either. Very much his own man, and probably preferred to set his own sails. I just throw these impressions out; one day I'll read the Oswald biography.

Also a consummate professional and quite a legacy of recordings. I will look for the transcription of the 6th and some of the CBC recordings at some point.

Most recently I enjoyed the Beethoven Bagatelles. I don't see many recordings of them; the bagatelles are full of surprises - a good demonstration at what can come out of a piano, delightful to listen to.

If anyone is interested I could post up a list of the complete repertoire contained in the set - just involves a copy and paste from my catalog.

Donald Isler
Posts: 2936
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 11:01 am
Contact:

Post by Donald Isler » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:24 pm

I don't think there's another pianist about whom I feel so strongly in both directions.

I detest his Mozart. His ideas of playing some works in an "original" manner are not well suited, in my opinion, to the works of someone whose brilliance was even far beyond his own.

His Goldberg Variatons, both versions, are incredibly great.

His other Bach recordings are always amazing, technically, but sometimes remarkably cold and colorless. I will often, happily, take the less perfect but far warmer performances of Edwin Fischer, for instance, instead.

What is frequently exhilarating about so many of his performances, especially of Bach, is that one is staggered by the detail one hears in it, often going by at an incredible speed. One hasn't heard it that way before. I'm reminded of a movie of Jacques Cousteau which I saw in 1965. He was in a vessel far beneath the sea, and the camera was showing strange and beautiful wildlife swimming around the depths. He said "We have no idea what they are. No one has probably ever seen them before." It's sort of like that.
Donald Isler

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:43 pm

Donald wrote:remarkably cold and colorless
Somehow that sounds very appropriate for a Canadian pianist.

Anton Webern

Post by Anton Webern » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:52 pm

Gould was not a genius, he just had a genial piano technique which he used to validate some of his deranged philosophies. His Bach works, and that has always been his saving grace, but beyond that, yikes.
Last edited by Anton Webern on Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Werner
CMG's Elder Statesman
Posts: 4223
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 9:23 pm
Location: Irvington, NY

Post by Werner » Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:52 pm

I don't quite agree. Yes, his Bach is special - not that I'm always taken with it - there are some traces of glibness that I find disconcerting, even in his Bach.

But I have what I believe is his last recording - of Strauss' 5 Piano Pieces, Op. 3. It's been a while since I last heard it, but I remember being struck by how appropriate to Strauss it was.

I have no doubt that Gould's equipment was in the genius category - not to mention his pianistic technique. Whether that always was in line with what we'd reasonably expect in the way of interpretation is another story. Some time back, I remember seeing a piece by Kuerti which suggested that there was a frustrated composer yearning to emerge - and this might have been the cause (I suspect) for his efforts at re-composing some things - the notorious performance of the Brahms D Minor Concerto witrh Bernstein, for one thing. Donald and Teresa have already referred to the diasters in Mozart that resulted from this tendency. Yes, Gould was a genius, but not one of the mainstream kind.

And what can you say for a performer of his calibre who undertakes to record the likes of Mozart and Beethoven, only to "debunk" the composer and the music in his program notes?
Werner Isler

Anton Webern

Post by Anton Webern » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:02 pm

Werner wrote: And what can you say for a performer of his calibre who undertakes to record the likes of Mozart and Beethoven, only to "debunk" the composer and the music in his program notes?
Not enough spanking as a child? :wink:

Personally, if he really wanted to make an impact as a performer (in a completely unorthodox way), he could have simply devoted his recording career to cover the voluminous literature of the archaic keyboard music of the late renaissance/early baroque which has only received limited attention from the HIP crowd and which would have been a truly pioneering step, particularly considering that allegedly, Gould himself was in love with this particular repertory, especially the music of Orlando Gibbons.

Instead, he had to waist a decade trying to "debunk" Mozart and Beethoven. Christ.
Last edited by Anton Webern on Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:12 pm

Imperfect Pitch wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Do they know genius, or merely gape at eccentricity?
Is Earth round, or is it flat? It's round; and here, they know genius.
One's opinion of Gould is not on the same footing as a scientific fact. You can think him a genius if that suits you; I don't.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

CharmNewton
Posts: 1907
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:10 pm

Post by CharmNewton » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:07 am

I don't know what benefit comes from labeling Gould a genius. I guess it makes it easier to talk about him.

I enjoy his recordings for the most part. I admire how easily and openly he brings various musical lines and phrases to the surface, especially those played with the left hand, making them very easy to hear. I love the sound of his piano. And his playing in slow movements i find often exceptionally moving (for example Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata or Mozart's in F major, K. 280). I can't be the only person who enjoys his Mozart as the recordings have never been out-of-print.

Gould seems much more popular now than he was during his lifetime, and I suspect that his individuality as an artist speaks to younger listeners. Regardless of what he may have wrote (and writing about music is a challenge), it is very apparent in listening that he thought and cared about what he played. He is rarely technically sloppy (one can hear some smudging in the 1955 Goldbergs and some of the mid-50s late Beethoven). One can like or dislike, agree or disagree with his moment to moment artistic choices. I find the openness and transparency of many his readings very refreshing.

John

Imperfect Pitch
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

Post by Imperfect Pitch » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:55 am

Corlyss_D wrote:One's opinion of Gould is not on the same footing as a scientific fact.
Corlyss - Yes, obviously! I hope you didn't take my comment literally. I think everyone can agree that this is a matter of opinion and not scientific fact. But it should be equally obvious that Gould fans (anyone's fans) are not a monolithic bloc. Some may appreciate him on purely musical terms, while others may be drawn by his eccentricities. Indeed, some may be unable to look *past* his eccentricies. You can't cram Gould's fans or his detractors into a straitjacket, and the same holds true for any performer.

In an earlier post, you asked, of those who appreciate Gould: "Do they know genius, or merely gape at eccentricity?" This question can easily be posed in reverse: For those who profess a dislike for Gould, "Are they blind to genius, or merely put off by eccentricity?" In either case, the question is barbed because it suggests that one group or another is being naive.

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:25 am

Imperfect Pitch wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:One's opinion of Gould is not on the same footing as a scientific fact.
Corlyss - Yes, obviously! I hope you didn't take my comment literally.
Sorry if I missed the wink. I'm a scared veteran of political brawls and apt to take everything literaly without a sign to the contrary.
In an earlier post, you asked, of those who appreciate Gould: "Do they know genius, or merely gape at eccentricity?" This question can easily be posed in reverse: For those who profess a dislike for Gould, "Are they blind to genius, or merely put off by eccentricity?" In either case, the question is barbed because it suggests that one group or another is being naive.
That's a fair question. And we specialize in barbed questions around here. I am indeed put off by people who parade their eccentricity as though it alone entitled them to attention for their endeavors. I don't think either group would be necessarily naive. I think they would be looking for and at different things.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Imperfect Pitch
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

Post by Imperfect Pitch » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:26 am

slofstra - Can you give us a sense of what you liked best from the set? I think I'm one of the few people on earth who actually loves Gould's Mozart (not just the C minor concerto with Susskind, but also the Sonatas believe it or not, with maybe two exceptions), his Beethoven, and even his Scarlatti(!) ... along with his Bach. So if you tell me what has resonated with you so far, I'll try to think of other recordings in a similar vein.

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:21 am

Give me another month! The thread may sink but I won't forget.

I really look forward to the Mozart sonatas, because I've never been taken by them - goodness knows I've tried. There's a thread somewhere where 'John F' gave me a list of the best ones, and the sonatas certainly are not of equal measure. (I have the Uchida set, btw, and some singles such as Perahia).

I'm really enjoying the give and take on this thread. Whatever you might say about Gould I don't see how his genius could be in dispute - that is, the raw material he brings to the table.

I felt perhaps that Gould's eccentricities might spill over into his music - and they do in terms of his stylistic choices. But it strikes me also that Gould was a consummate professional; the choices he made were not made flippantly or lightly, so I respect him greatly for this even where I might disagree. I think I've had the impression that he was one of those prodigies who was also a flake, perhaps an interesting one, but still a flake, and I'm pleased to discover that he most definitely was not - just read the liner notes. An eccentric and a flake are very different things; they're both odd, but the former can't really help himself for what he is, while the latter just doesn't give a fig.

Incidentally, if you buy this set - I got it for $150! - get a magnifying glass; you'll need it to read the liner notes; but they're all there in their copious glory even the gatefolds.

It's been said for example that Gould just played through the Beethoven sonatas as quickly as possible because he disliked them, and I wonder if that's really true, or if he was trying to show something about them. In any case I've had his sonatas for some years and don't listen to them all that often although I once did; perhaps they now deserve a revisit.

Imperfect Pitch
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

Post by Imperfect Pitch » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:24 pm

slofstra wrote:Give me another month! The thread may sink but I won't forget.
I'll be waiting :-)

nadej_baptiste
Posts: 194
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:41 pm
Location: Seattle
Contact:

Post by nadej_baptiste » Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:57 am

I don't think there is much one can do to explain why he affects us like that ("us" being the people he affects, naturally!). Aside from his technical brilliance, there is a spirit in every recording of his I have heard -- a great, huge heart that gives itself to the music in every possible way. He seemed to treat music like a religion (which it is) and in his dedication one can hear the composer's true identity as he plays...

I'm not quite sure how else to say it besides this: he allowed himself to be a messenger, instead of letting the grandeur of being an artist cloud his intentions. Honesty produces the best work, I think...
--Kamila

PGS
Posts: 198
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:15 pm
Location: Hellas Greece

Post by PGS » Tue Feb 12, 2008 5:53 am

BWV 1080 wrote:Specifically in regards to Bach, Gould created a pianistic style that captures aspects of the music that are sometimes lost with the instrument. The basic problem with Bach on the piano is that the music was written for Harpsichord which lacks several dimensions that the piano offers. The issue then is that Bach on the piano either sounds plain and somewhat sterile, lacking dynamics, pedaling etc or distorts the music by adding these attributes inappropriately. Gould created a style of Bach playing that preserved the integrity of the music but still pushes the piano and takes advantage of its capabilities.
Exactly what I wanted to say! I sometimes find his tempos not matching my taste, p.e. in the second prelude of the WTC, but his style of playing remains my favorite, especially in Bach.
"When doing something good, expect nothing in return. Your reward will find its way eventually"

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:29 am

Corlyss wrote:I am indeed put off by people who parade their eccentricity as though it alone entitled them to attention for their endeavors.
I have to agree on this one, Corlyss. I wouldn't even single out Gould, rather I'd include the whole category of eccentric "geniuses" who make weird comments comparing themselves to geniuses who have preceded them. If they have serious self-esteem issues grappling with a composer who had genius on another plane, using eccentricity as a substitute doesn't cut it.

In the immortal words of that great genius Lewis Carroll, "A cat may look at a king." (Heck, how else would someone like me even attempt the first measure of Mozart? :D )

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

diegobueno
Winds Specialist
Posts: 2362
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:26 pm
Contact:

Post by diegobueno » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:03 am

I've just been enjoying Gould with the Juilliard Quartet in Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon. It's a white-hot exciting and coherent performance. The flow of ideas to the E flat major conclusion sounds logical and inevitable; in fact the whole piece sounds tonal from the first note to last.

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:35 am

Teresa B wrote:
Corlyss wrote:I am indeed put off by people who parade their eccentricity as though it alone entitled them to attention for their endeavors.
I have to agree on this one, Corlyss. I wouldn't even single out Gould, rather I'd include the whole category of eccentric "geniuses" who make weird comments comparing themselves to geniuses who have preceded them. If they have serious self-esteem issues grappling with a composer who had genius on another plane, using eccentricity as a substitute doesn't cut it.

In the immortal words of that great genius Lewis Carroll, "A cat may look at a king." (Heck, how else would someone like me even attempt the first measure of Mozart? :D )

Teresa
Geniuses often are eccentric though. Which is why some pretenders to the crown play at genius by acting eccentric. Gould was not one of those; both a genius and an eccentric. And so was Charles Dodgson (aka as Lewis Carroll).

I always think of 'Beethoven Lives Upstairs' in this connection. It's a wonderful kids story with the lesson of granting geniuses a little more space so that they can create.

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:56 pm

slofstra wrote:
Teresa B wrote:
Corlyss wrote:I am indeed put off by people who parade their eccentricity as though it alone entitled them to attention for their endeavors.
I have to agree on this one, Corlyss. I wouldn't even single out Gould, rather I'd include the whole category of eccentric "geniuses" who make weird comments comparing themselves to geniuses who have preceded them. If they have serious self-esteem issues grappling with a composer who had genius on another plane, using eccentricity as a substitute doesn't cut it.

In the immortal words of that great genius Lewis Carroll, "A cat may look at a king." (Heck, how else would someone like me even attempt the first measure of Mozart? :D )

Teresa
Geniuses often are eccentric though. Which is why some pretenders to the crown play at genius by acting eccentric. Gould was not one of those; both a genius and an eccentric. And so was Charles Dodgson (aka as Lewis Carroll).

I always think of 'Beethoven Lives Upstairs' in this connection. It's a wonderful kids story with the lesson of granting geniuses a little more space so that they can create.
Well, I may have been ungenerous in not acknowledging Gould's real talent, which surely was prodigous. And yes, Dodgson was also an eccentric with tons of talent (I recall he had a rather odd relationship with Alice Liddell, which seems in retrospect to be a little like Michael Jackson's so-called "innocent" cavorting with children.).

Beethoven notwithstanding, I disagree that we REGULAR people have some duty to cowtow to oddball "geniuses". Eccentricity is fine, but it doesn't give the eccentric the right to infringe on the peaceful existence of others, or spew any garbage he wants with impunity.

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:15 pm

Teresa B wrote:
slofstra wrote:
Teresa B wrote:
Corlyss wrote:I am indeed put off by people who parade their eccentricity as though it alone entitled them to attention for their endeavors.
I have to agree on this one, Corlyss. I wouldn't even single out Gould, rather I'd include the whole category of eccentric "geniuses" who make weird comments comparing themselves to geniuses who have preceded them. If they have serious self-esteem issues grappling with a composer who had genius on another plane, using eccentricity as a substitute doesn't cut it.

In the immortal words of that great genius Lewis Carroll, "A cat may look at a king." (Heck, how else would someone like me even attempt the first measure of Mozart? :D )

Teresa
Geniuses often are eccentric though. Which is why some pretenders to the crown play at genius by acting eccentric. Gould was not one of those; both a genius and an eccentric. And so was Charles Dodgson (aka as Lewis Carroll).

I always think of 'Beethoven Lives Upstairs' in this connection. It's a wonderful kids story with the lesson of granting geniuses a little more space so that they can create.
Well, I may have been ungenerous in not acknowledging Gould's real talent, which surely was prodigous. And yes, Dodgson was also an eccentric with tons of talent (I recall he had a rather odd relationship with Alice Liddell, which seems in retrospect to be a little like Michael Jackson's so-called "innocent" cavorting with children.).

Beethoven notwithstanding, I disagree that we REGULAR people have some duty to cowtow to oddball "geniuses". Eccentricity is fine, but it doesn't give the eccentric the right to infringe on the peaceful existence of others, or spew any garbage he wants with impunity.

Teresa
I see your point, but I'd be prepared to cut Beethoven a little extra slack. :)

I must take you up on the point of Dodgson relationship with Alice Lidell; there has never been any actual evidence of impropriety. I remember CBC Radio doing a special on this some years ago, and interviewed one of the heirs who had researched these suggestions and there was never even a hint of any malevolence from Alice Lidell herself. The extensive literature on Dodgson's relationship with young girls infer paedophilia based on a psychological analysis, and constitute a revisionism that say more about our times than about his. There is extensive discussion of this in the Wikipedia article on Dodgson (and Lidell), and the very latest studies seem to be swinging back against these scurrilous insinuations.

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Post by Teresa B » Wed Feb 13, 2008 7:23 am

Oh, I said Beethoven notwithstanding for a reason--I'll cut him a little extra slack. :)

As for Dodgson, I suppose we'll never know, but it may well be that he didn't have any improper contact with Alice. And yes, in our day and age, we probably view his relationship with little girls through more of a looking glass than perhaps we ought.

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:34 am

Teresa B wrote:Oh, I said Beethoven notwithstanding for a reason--I'll cut him a little extra slack. :)

As for Dodgson, I suppose we'll never know, but it may well be that he didn't have any improper contact with Alice. And yes, in our day and age, we probably view his relationship with little girls through more of a looking glass than perhaps we ought.

Teresa
There's never been any evidence of any impropriety. Seems to illustrate the adage that if you repeat something often enough people will think it's true. I believe it's called "received wisdom".

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:40 pm

Finally some impressions on listening to the 80 CD Glenn Gould set.

#64 - 1982 - Haydn/ Late Piano Sonatas
The rests in the Andante of no. 58 are very long which allows the mind to continue the truncated melody line. The vocalizing is amusing here. The allegro of no. 59 is incredible. By comparison to the Beethoven sonatas these are more raw and pure.

#60 - 1980 - Bach Toccatas bwv 911, 915, 916, 914
The first part of 911 is so-so. The second part is delightful. The playing is very rhythmic with no rubato.

#57 - 1977 - Sibelius Sonatines op 67.
Lots of echo. This music is sparse and evocative. Reminds one of Grieg. Favourite is op 41 "Kyllikki"

#23 - 1966 - "Emperor" Beethoven PC 5 w/ Stokowski
The piano/orchestra balance does not seem natural. The piano is turned up extra loud as usually an orchestra cannot play this loud without drowning out the piano. This is a big and juicy 'Emperor' - quite appealing. The tutti's are more bouncy than percussive.

#35 - 1970 - Appasionata - What was he thinking?
No notes on the other sonatas.

#33 - 1969 - Mozart piano sonatas 6,7,9 - k. 284, 309, 311
A lot of fun. I've always found much of this music kind of boring - for example, the 3rd mvt of k 284. k 309 is incredible. (Sorry, my written notes are hard to decipher).

#1 - 1956 - Goldberg Variations
A lot of hiss on the first few tracks. The slower mvts are wonderfully meditative and contemplative.

#14 - 1962 - Mozart PC #24 and Schoenberg PC op. 42
On the Mozart the orchestra is very lyrical; the piano is almost understated compared to my other recordings.
This is my first exposure to the Schoenberg. It sounds like the bars of the East St Louis Toodle OO played in random order. At some point a cat starts walking up and down the piano, and I don't mean the saxophone player. Wait it is the saxophone player who is joined soon enough by an elephant. Wait he's swinging the entire piano around in the air with his trunk. (It's what I wrote at the time).

#22a - 1966 - Schoenberg op. 1, op. 2, op. 15
Donald Gramm, baritone on op.1 is magnificent. The 'abscheid' is a little overwrought. Ellen Faull, soprano on op.2 and Helen Vanni on op. 15, also very good.

#37 - 1970 - Beethoven Variations for Piano
woo 80 and op 35 are fine; op 34 will not be a favourite.
There are some loud squirts of white noise on track 30 and 31. The fugue that closes op. 35 is outstanding.

#43 - 1972 - Handel/ Suites for Harpsichord
Gould's only recording on the harpsichord. Apparently this recording was panned by the critics. The character of each track is very different. On some tracks the instrument sounds like a plucked harp and I wonder why this is.

#38 - 1973 - Wagner trans. by Gould includes:
1) Prelude from Die Meistersinger - fun, but not convincing.
2) Rhine Journey from Gotterdamerung
3) Siegfried Idyll
The last is perhaps the best one, but all have their moments.

At this moment I'm playing the Gamba Sonatas.

Hopefully, this gives an idea of the diversity and wide range of enjoyment that this set provides. There's a lot of music here that I haven't seen come up all that often.

CharmNewton
Posts: 1907
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:10 pm

Post by CharmNewton » Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:10 am

slofstra wrote: #43 - 1972 - Handel/ Suites for Harpsichord
Gould's only recording on the harpsichord. Apparently this recording was panned by the critics. The character of each track is very different. On some tracks the instrument sounds like a plucked harp and I wonder why this is.
Some harpsichords are equipped with what is called a "lute stop", and I believe this is what you are hearing here (I'm not sure if I have this set, so I can't confirm at this time by listening). Helmut Walcha used this to good effect in his EMI recording of the French Suites (once available in the U.S. on Mace LPs)

John

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17635
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:55 am

CharmNewton wrote:[Helmut Walcha used this to good effect in his EMI recording of the French Suites (once available in the U.S. on Mace LPs)
I have that set, it's from 1962 I have on EMI Japanese Import, just like the Westminster disc I have Tower used to Import it, I wondered what that style of playing was and now I know...i'll play those Suites at work in the morning I think, and follow it with Glenn's...
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

CharmNewton
Posts: 1907
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:10 pm

Post by CharmNewton » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:25 am

Chalkperson wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:[Helmut Walcha used this to good effect in his EMI recording of the French Suites (once available in the U.S. on Mace LPs)
I have that set, it's from 1962 I have on EMI Japanese Import, just like the Westminster disc I have Tower used to Import it, I wondered what that style of playing was and now I know...i'll play those Suites at work in the morning I think, and follow it with Glenn's...
The effect is captivating. I remember after hearing Walcha, I started playing the repeat of Minuet II from the Cello Suite No. 1 pizzicato (plucked rather than bowed). My teacher didn't think much of the idea, and I've never heard a pro play it this way, but in this minuet it has always sounded right played pizzicato.

John

slofstra
Posts: 8899
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:14 am

I should add that what is so pleasing about this set is its tremendous range and diversity. When you play Brendel you know pretty much what you're going to get, and this is not a criticism. But this Gould set is full of surprises, as well as introducing a lot of new repertoire across an incredible range from Hetu to Schoenberg to Byrd.

Imperfect Pitch
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

Post by Imperfect Pitch » Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:46 pm

slofstra - Sorry to be late to the party; I just now noticed your March 2 reply. Based on your comments, I suggest giving these a try if you haven't already:

* Beethoven Piano Sonatas Op. 28, 78

* Mozart Prelude & Fugue K. 394

* Mozart Fantasy K. 475

* Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas K. 13, 430

* Bach Partita #6

* Bach English Suites #2, 5

* Bach Two and Three-Part Inventions (preferably the studio recording)

* Bach Italian Cto (1959 version)

* Bach Keyboard Cto #1 in D minor with either Bernstein or L. Slovak

* And, of course, Bach's Goldberg Variations (1981 version)

Happy listening ...


    Chosen Barley
    Posts: 639
    Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:42 am
    Location: Canada

    Post by Chosen Barley » Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:58 pm

    Gosh, I wish I could find where I read this - another super-virtuoso, Ivan Davis, no less, said words to the effect that he couldn't figure out if Gould was some kind of utterly unique genius or just an untalented, strange, a*****e. Please understand, I am using my own words here.

    Doesn't anybody, including Davis, get it - it all comes down to Personal Opinion & Taste. Some people were not bothered by W. Gieseking's wrong notes, and others thought it was unseemly that he could get away with such obvious errors.

    "Why is Gould so great?" I would suggest that he is seen to be "great" partly because he is endlessly promoted as being so by the Canadian Broadcasting Association. And, come on, kids, that razor-sharp, speedy playing, too, impresses the hell out of most of us. Of course, his poor recording engineer had something to do with his technical perfection. "Great"? I don't know.
    STRESSED? Spell it backwards for the cure.

    Chalkperson
    Disposable Income Specialist
    Posts: 17635
    Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
    Location: New York City
    Contact:

    Post by Chalkperson » Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:45 pm

    Chosen Barley wrote:GSome people were not bothered by W. Gieseking's wrong notes, and others thought it was unseemly that he could get away with such obvious errors.
    When Gieseking used to check into Hotels he would warn the porter that his suitcase was very heavy, Why's that Sir? asked the Porter, Because it contains all my wrong notes! replied the pianist... :wink:
    Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

    slofstra
    Posts: 8899
    Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
    Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
    Contact:

    Post by slofstra » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:18 pm

    Chosen Barley wrote:Gosh, I wish I could find where I read this - another super-virtuoso, Ivan Davis, no less, said words to the effect that he couldn't figure out if Gould was some kind of utterly unique genius or just an untalented, strange, a*****e. Please understand, I am using my own words here.

    Doesn't anybody, including Davis, get it - it all comes down to Personal Opinion & Taste. Some people were not bothered by W. Gieseking's wrong notes, and others thought it was unseemly that he could get away with such obvious errors.

    "Why is Gould so great?" I would suggest that he is seen to be "great" partly because he is endlessly promoted as being so by the Canadian Broadcasting Association. And, come on, kids, that razor-sharp, speedy playing, too, impresses the hell out of most of us. Of course, his poor recording engineer had something to do with his technical perfection. "Great"? I don't know.
    The problem with your thesis is that Gould has an almost cult-like following in many parts of the world where the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has never been heard.
    But welcome to the board, fellow Canadian. Where in our great land do you call home, if I may ask?

    Chosen Barley
    Posts: 639
    Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:42 am
    Location: Canada

    Post by Chosen Barley » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:34 pm

    Heh, heh. I can't believe I said Canadian Broadcasting Association instead of Corporation! :oops: For those outside of Canada, please know it is also referred to as the Mother Corpse. :lol:

    It seems to me that it wouldn't matter whether or not people who idolize Gould ever listened to the CBC. Their influence on his image is an international event. Why, it's almost a religion. Doesn't matter; he was a terrific musician.

    Thanks for yer warm welcome! My family & I are in Manitoba (not Winnipeg). Used to live in Wpg but not anymore, so I don't get to concerts that much and am reliant on old LPs and the Mother Corpse for my daily dose of "classical".
    STRESSED? Spell it backwards for the cure.

    slofstra
    Posts: 8899
    Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
    Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
    Contact:

    Post by slofstra » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:58 pm

    Chosen Barley wrote:Heh, heh. I can't believe I said Canadian Broadcasting Association instead of Corporation! :oops: For those outside of Canada, please know it is also referred to as the Mother Corpse. :lol:

    It seems to me that it wouldn't matter whether or not people who idolize Gould ever listened to the CBC. Their influence on his image is an international event. Why, it's almost a religion. Doesn't matter; he was a terrific musician.

    Thanks for yer warm welcome! My family & I are in Manitoba (not Winnipeg). Used to live in Wpg but not anymore, so I don't get to concerts that much and am reliant on old LPs and the Mother Corpse for my daily dose of "classical".
    We have some really close friends in the Interlake (Arborg) and I've spent a bit of time in Winterpeg myself - a few years ago. Friendly Manitoba, they say, justifiably so to my experience.
    I also have a relative who came originally from Carman. And some acquaintances in other parts of the province as well.

    There's been some recent discussion of Victor Davies on the board - are you familiar with his work at all?

    Guitarist
    Posts: 1160
    Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:22 pm
    Location: Davis, CA

    Post by Guitarist » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:00 pm

    I love the way Gould clarified each voice, but I wish he used less staccato to achieve this clarity.
    Last edited by Guitarist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

    slofstra
    Posts: 8899
    Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
    Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
    Contact:

    Post by slofstra » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:09 pm

    Fugue wrote:I love the way he clarified each voice, but I wish he used less staccato to achieve this clarity.
    You mean Gould, don't you. Last night I was listening to Mozart's Prelude and Fugue, k. 394 (listed by Imperfect, above) which illustrates this. No voice is subordinated, and melody and counter-melody roll along blissfully. The piece really rocks. But the piece is played with a heavy hand; I'm not sure I would call it staccato. Also, the music is not broken into phrases, it just keeps rolling along preserving the tempo. Very pleasing. Unfortunately I don't have any other version of that piece to compare.

    Post Reply

    Who is online

    Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot] and 1 guest