Why is Gould so great?

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Guitarist
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Post by Guitarist » Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:21 pm

slofstra wrote:
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.
Yes, Gould (I "clarified" that remark in my post!) I hear it more in his Bach recordings. I just prefer a more legato approach.

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Post by greymouse » Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:29 pm

The reason I believe the Gould hype is because I heard him before I learned about any of his weird behaviors. It was the Goldberg Variations (2nd recording), and I was supposed to hear it as an example of Bach and not piano style. My teacher simply said, "It's a great recording. Listen to the voice leading." So sure I was listening for it, but I was surprised how quickly it impressed me. Practically 3 or 4 notes into the air, I was mesmerized. How in the matter of a few notes can a pianist display brilliance? So I looked up Glenn Gould and learned about him. One of the only performers who ever had that effect on me. He does this with almost every piece he recorded. Justified hype IMO.

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Post by slofstra » Tue Mar 18, 2008 5:55 pm

Fugue wrote:
slofstra wrote:
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.
Yes, Gould (I "clarified" that remark in my post!) I hear it more in his Bach recordings. I just prefer a more legato approach.
To me it's almost a piece by piece thing. I'm not that crazy about Bach on the piano period, though I would like Gould to convince me otherwise. i.e. I've only recently obtained this set, and my impressions are based on various Hewitt and Perahia CDs I own. It's not that I dislike them, just that I don't really warm to them.
When it comes to orchestral and choral Bach I find I have fairly strong reactions, yay or nay about most performances perhaps more than any other composer. At one time I though that I only liked the HIP approach, but I've heard more non-period performances since that I really like. Like Szymon Goldberg or van Beinum. I guess I've almost never heard a Dutch performance of Bach I didn't like extending through to Ton Koopman.
And that will probably extend to Gould as I listen to more of it - some stuff I like and some I don't; I'm not sure that staccato/ legato defines the difference for me, but perhaps it'll work out like that. It's an interesting idea, except in my case, I probably prefer the staccato approach on keyboard.

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Post by slofstra » Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:37 am

Question
I listened yesterday to Gould's rendition of the Pastorale piano transcription made by Liszt. (It's great - mostly). But my question is this. Why is the second movement (Andante - scene at the brook) over 20 minutes long? I checked all my orchestral recordings of the original symphony and the longest is maybe 13 minutes. Did Liszt add a repeat or repeats?

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Post by Imperfect Pitch » Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:12 pm

slofstra wrote:Question
Why is the second movement (Andante - scene at the brook) over 20 minutes long?
He takes a very slow tempo. Compare it against one of your orchestral recordings and you'll notice right away. It's not to everyone's taste, but I like it. This is actually one of my favorite Gould recordings.

 

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Post by slofstra » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:31 pm

Imperfect Pitch wrote:
slofstra wrote:Question
Why is the second movement (Andante - scene at the brook) over 20 minutes long?
He takes a very slow tempo. Compare it against one of your orchestral recordings and you'll notice right away. It's not to everyone's taste, but I like it. This is actually one of my favorite Gould recordings.
It's absolutely sublime. The entire transcription is very enjoyable, and would be a worthy complement for anyone's selection of Pastorale orchestral recordings. I dislike only the thunderstorm section, but that's just a small part; it's kind of cheesy. I believe you recommended this earlier in the thread, and so I purchased this and another CD containing his Hammerklavier, neither of which is available in the 80 CD set as they were first released posthumously.

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Post by Imperfect Pitch » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:45 pm

slofstra wrote:I dislike only the thunderstorm section, but that's just a small part; it's kind of cheesy. I believe you recommended this earlier in the thread, and so I purchased this and another CD containing his Hammerklavier, neither of which is available in the 80 CD set as they were first released posthumously.
Me too ... his fourth mov't is forgettable, but the others are uniformly excellent. Gould's Hammerklavier is also quite good, and surprisingly "normal." His handling of the concluding fugue is thrilling.

I'm especially fond of Gould's performance of Op. 78, which I believe is on the same disc as the Hammerklavier.

 

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Post by slofstra » Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:48 pm

Imperfect Pitch wrote:
slofstra wrote:I dislike only the thunderstorm section, but that's just a small part; it's kind of cheesy. I believe you recommended this earlier in the thread, and so I purchased this and another CD containing his Hammerklavier, neither of which is available in the 80 CD set as they were first released posthumously.
Me too ... his fourth mov't is forgettable, but the others are uniformly excellent. Gould's Hammerklavier is also quite good, and surprisingly "normal." His handling of the concluding fugue is thrilling.

I'm especially fond of Gould's performance of Op. 78, which I believe is on the same disc as the Hammerklavier.
Yes, that is correct (about op.78, sonata #24 I believe). I'm working through the list you provided as I thought that would be interesting. But it will take a while mixed in with my other listening.

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Post by dirkronk » Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:27 pm

Since I'm likely to find Gould connoisseurs on this thread, allow me to ask a specific question: how are his performances of Byrd, Gibbons and Sweelinck? I noticed a CD that showed up in a used CD shop a day or so ago and, if people strongly commend it, I'll go back and grab it.

I should also say that I am NOT really a Gould fan...I like some of his Bach, but in small doses (like an LP side, for instance) and not to the exclusion of other approaches. Also I listen only sporadically to his other work (Haydn, Mozart, almost no LvB). My best reaction has been to composers or compositions that are obscure and/or unknown to me (so I have no preconceived notions, obviously): e.g., the Berg/Schoenberg/Krenek LP has remained in my collection for a long time. Eccentric? I'd say so. But because I've had some positive experiences with the guy's playing, I don't automatically cringe or avoid a recording just because it's Gould.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Dirk

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Post by Chalkperson » Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:47 pm

dirkronk wrote:Since I'm likely to find Gould connoisseurs on this thread, allow me to ask a specific question: how are his performances of Byrd, Gibbons and Sweelinck? I noticed a CD that showed up in a used CD shop a day or so ago and, if people strongly commend it, I'll go back and grab it.
That's one of his best discs, especially the Sweelink Fantasia, nobody was performing the music of those Composers and Gould's disc is very fine...although for Gibbons I also recommend Christopher Hogwood's disc played on the Harpsichord...
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slofstra
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Post by slofstra » Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:59 pm

dirkronk wrote:Since I'm likely to find Gould connoisseurs on this thread, allow me to ask a specific question: how are his performances of Byrd, Gibbons and Sweelinck? I noticed a CD that showed up in a used CD shop a day or so ago and, if people strongly commend it, I'll go back and grab it.

I should also say that I am NOT really a Gould fan...I like some of his Bach, but in small doses (like an LP side, for instance) and not to the exclusion of other approaches. Also I listen only sporadically to his other work (Haydn, Mozart, almost no LvB). My best reaction has been to composers or compositions that are obscure and/or unknown to me (so I have no preconceived notions, obviously): e.g., the Berg/Schoenberg/Krenek LP has remained in my collection for a long time. Eccentric? I'd say so. But because I've had some positive experiences with the guy's playing, I don't automatically cringe or avoid a recording just because it's Gould.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Dirk
The Byrd and Gibbons selections are inspired and also well regarded. They were selected for the 'Great Pianists' Gould CD which is how I first heard them. I'm not familiar with the Sweelinck; it was not included on the original issue or the 'Great Pianists' CD. Probably thrown in to round out the CD.

It seems that Gould was contracted to record all the Mozart sonatas and the Beethoven sonatas as well. And given his temperament the erratic nature of those recordings is not surprising. Gould is great when he felt connected to the Muse, otherwise forget it. Not a craftsman. And that fits with your impression of him being at his best with obscure works. Because in those cases - obviously he chose them.

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