Comparing Goldbergs

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Tarantella
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Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Tarantella » Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:25 am

Tonight I'm listening to two versions of the Goldberg Variations - Perahia and Gould: my sister is here with me and she's reading a biography of Gould. Here's the Perahia version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ppcbLdtghE

Now compare this with Glen Gould's Goldbergs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2YMSt3yfko

Would anyone like to comment on these two quite divergent performances. I know which one I prefer!! :lol:

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Istvan » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:09 am

Murray Perahia without hesitation. Gould is far too slow at the start and this gets one off on a wrong footing. I find Perahia in general more flowing and lyrical, his sound more beautiful and his playing has greater profundity and sense of timelessness. Gould got nearer to this in a performance at Salzburg, his second recording, but it is no longer available - I got my copy "free" with the French magazine "Diapason" a few years ago.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by John F » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:38 am

That's Gould's second approach to the variations, very different and far more willful than his first in the famous 1955 Columbia recording. Kind of the opposite of Perahia's and other such level-headed versions.

Here's the 1955 recording, for comparison. Unfortunately, clip 2 of the 5 has been blocked:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGY9tHHM ... 616FBFF633

Gould's virtuosity is breathtaking and since Bach provided no tempo markings for most of the variations, it can't be said that his tempos contradict the score. Some of them are so fast that I can't really follow the music, but that may be just me.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by nosreme » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:29 am

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Last edited by nosreme on Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:48 am

I don't think anyone can be compared to Gould, especially as Richter never recorded them, he is the only one I can think of who would interpret them in an equally eccentric way. (I hope that's the right word)

Of the 50 or so readings in my collection I would say Perahia is my favourite on the piano. But really this work should be heard on the Harpsichord.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by stenka razin » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:19 pm

As much as I admire Perahia in the Goldberg, the original 1955 Gould Goldberg is the one to go for. It is a once in a lifetime performance. Highy recommended.


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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:39 pm

I have liked Gould's second recording since it first appeared for its beauty of sound and cleanly articulated playing. At times it is very moving, especially the return of the aria. The earlier recording for me has moments that sound out of control and (occasionally) smeared. I don't know if Gould was unhappy with it--he may have seen digital technology as a threat to the old recording.

Two pianists I would love to have recordings of Emil Gilels and Alicia de Larrocha laying this work. Gilels could be a powerfully expressive player and very moving. de Larrocha's bright, clean sound would provide a different sunnier view of this work.

One can still wish that Martha Argerich (one of the happiest photos I've seen of her is the one on her Bach recording), Ingrid Haebler (in her 80s now), Stanislav Bunin or Krystian Zimerman might record this work.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:35 pm

John F wrote:Gould's virtuosity is breathtaking and since Bach provided no tempo markings for most of the variations, it can't be said that his tempos contradict the score. Some of them are so fast that I can't really follow the music, but that may be just me.
It is not just you.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:58 pm

There is a film about the second of Gould's Goldberg recording. In places you see that he plays some passages with one leg casually crossed over the other, showing a sense of relaxation the like of which I have never seen before or since.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Tiger » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:55 am

I prefer each of the 4 Gould versions. Perahia's account is a good one, but I don't find anything special in it.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by josé echenique » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:38 am

Chalkperson wrote:I don't think anyone can be compared to Gould, especially as Richter never recorded them, he is the only one I can think of who would interpret them in an equally eccentric way. (I hope that's the right word)

Of the 50 or so readings in my collection I would say Perahia is my favourite on the piano. But really this work should be heard on the Harpsichord.
Last year I heard András Schiff play a truly exquisite Goldbergs, and I would prefer him over both Gould and Perahia, but Chalkie is right, rather than "Gould´s Goldbergs" they should be Bach´s:


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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Lance » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:11 pm

Most interesting topics. I just did a CD search on the Goldberg Variations I have. I was stupefied with the number. Please let me list them:

Glenn Gould, 1955, 1981, 1959 (live Salzburg), 1954 (Canada)
Charles Rosen
Murray Perahia
Rudolf Serkin
Andrei Gavrilov
Wilhelm Kempff
Rosalyn Tureck (piano)
Ralph Kirkpatrick (harpsichord, 2 versions)
Wanda Landowska (harpsichord, 1933 EMI)
Wanda Landowska (harpsichord, 1950s RCA)
Maria Tipo
Igor Kipnis (harpsichord)
Daniel Barenboim (live)
Rosalyn Tureck (piano, 1950s)
Maria Yudina
Peter Serkin
Claudio Arrau
Pierre Reach
Tatiana Nikolayeva (live 1986)
Claudius Tanski
André Tchaikovsky
Tatiana Nikolayeva (1992)
David Korevaar
Sara Davis Buechner
Ronald Hawkins
Hans Kann
Rosalyn Tureck (harpsichord live 1981)
Maggie Cole (harpsichord)

The MOST impressionable recording I have ever heard was the Glenn Gould mono recorded by Columbia Records. I had the good fortune to talk with his producer of this recording, Howard H. Scott, and gained considerable insights. The mono sound was outstanding and Gould used a superb New York Steinway. I was less enamoured with the 1985 recording (Yamaha piano); it didn't seem to possess the same "magic" as the earlier recording. There was just something about Gould's early Goldbergs that blew me (and countless others) away, and was the perfect introduction to JS Bach's masterpiece for me, considerably younger then. It remains my favourite.

I have been highly impressed with Andrei Gavrilov's EMI recordings of Bach, but for them he didn't record the Goldbergs, only for DGG, which was a disappointment. I also love the Perahia recording for reasons spoken elsewhere on this thread. Vladimir Feltsman is also a superb Bachian. Insofar as the harpsichord is concerned, I'll take either of the Landowska recordings even though the purists don't approve of her Pleyel harpsichords. Charles Rosen was also an outstanding pianist in this work.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:57 pm

Odd that no one has mentioned Evgeni Koroliov's fine version on modern piano recorded for Haenssler, which has received excellent critical reviews. I wouldn't call it totally free of idiosyncrasies - some variations are awfully slow when compared to the norm (the 25th variation clocks in at over 11 minutes) while others are awfully fast - but then the same applies to the 1955 Gould and just about everyone, including me, agrees it's one of the best piano versions in the catalogue.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:58 pm

Tiger wrote:I prefer each of the 4 Gould versions. Perahia's account is a good one, but I don't find anything special in it.
Incidentally, I feel this way about just about every Perahia recording I've ever heard.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Tarantella » Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:16 pm

Lance, thanks for that comprehensive list of the Goldbergs.

A friend (I made on another messageboard) recently sent me the Vladimir Feltsman "Goldberg Variations" on CD and he thinks these are the outstanding account. The jury is still out for me. Actually, his Bach playing reminds me a little of Angela Hewitt.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by slofstra » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:12 pm

Feltsmann is a fairly creative interpreter of Bach , is he not? In any case we had saw him live just a few years ago, and I was smitten with his playing.
Another performer who is extremely creative with Bach, and in general, is Gabriela Montero, a prodigious and highly intuitive musical genius.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUfZeag_28g

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:59 pm

I have far fewer Goldbergs than WT Claviers, to my surprise - a round dozen.

Schiff piano
Hewitt piano
Tureck piano
Gould, 1955 and 1981, piano
Yudina piano
Gavrilov piano
Pinnock harpsichord
Gilbert harpsichord
Ogeil harpsichord
Kirkpatrick harpsichord
Suzuki harpsichord

I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.

Pinnock, Gilbert, Kirkpatrick and Suzuki have all been widely admired - do the harpsichord afficionados have a strong preference here, and why?

Also noone has mentioned in despatches the idiosyncratically slow Tureck who, if memory serves, had a Penguin Guide rosette. Any view on her?

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by John F » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:26 pm

barney wrote:Pinnock, Gilbert, Kirkpatrick and Suzuki have all been widely admired - do the harpsichord afficionados have a strong preference here, and why?
I've heard only the one by Ralph Kirkpatrick, long ago, and remember it as rather dull. My strong preference among harpsichord recordings is for Wanda Landowska, possibly the earlier HMV recording since RCA's recorded sound is very close-up and pretty harsh.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by slofstra » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:16 pm

barney wrote:I have far fewer Goldbergs than WT Claviers, to my surprise - a round dozen.

Schiff piano
Hewitt piano
Tureck piano
Gould, 1955 and 1981, piano
Yudina piano
Gavrilov piano
Pinnock harpsichord
Gilbert harpsichord
Ogeil harpsichord
Kirkpatrick harpsichord
Suzuki harpsichord

I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.

Pinnock, Gilbert, Kirkpatrick and Suzuki have all been widely admired - do the harpsichord afficionados have a strong preference here, and why?

Also noone has mentioned in despatches the idiosyncratically slow Tureck who, if memory serves, had a Penguin Guide rosette. Any view on her?
I think you should add Edwin Fischer's WTC. Let's ask Lance. Lance?

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:34 pm

I have Fischer's WTC. That list above is Goldbergs. Sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned the WTC. Re-reading, I can see I muddied the waters.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:59 pm

While I have quite a few of Hewitt's recordings, I kind of bowed out of buying issues of her recordings. Somehow, I'm not quite 'sent' with her work though I recognize she is certainly an accomplished pianist.
Tarantella wrote:Lance, thanks for that comprehensive list of the Goldbergs.

A friend (I made on another messageboard) recently sent me the Vladimir Feltsman "Goldberg Variations" on CD and he thinks these are the outstanding account. The jury is still out for me. Actually, his Bach playing reminds me a little of Angela Hewitt.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by josé echenique » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:17 pm

<I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.>

There are no "arguments" for the harpsichord, Bach composed it for that instrument.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:06 pm

josé echenique wrote:<I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.>

There are no "arguments" for the harpsichord, Bach composed it for that instrument.
Of course, but I too prefer the modern piano. I admit I'm weird. I greatly prefer the piano for all solo Bach, but I can't tolerate it for anything in which other instruments are also playing, and that goes double for the concertos.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:24 am

jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote:<I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.>

There are no "arguments" for the harpsichord, Bach composed it for that instrument.
Of course, but I too prefer the modern piano. I admit I'm weird. I greatly prefer the piano for all solo Bach, but I can't tolerate it for anything in which other instruments are also playing, and that goes double for the concertos.

Does that mean no pianos are allowed? Cellos can't play music written for viola da gamba? Are you equally puritannical about other aspects of period performance practice? Only gut strings? No vibrato? Must I travel by horse and carriage to a Bach concert? Nothing is allowed to move on? It seems a curious position, even without my extrapolations.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:54 am

regardless of what grumblings purists might have, Bach loved to transcribe his works for other instruments. I highly doubt that he would have had any objections to hearing his keyboard works played on a piano. The keys are, after all, laid out in just the same fashion. Furthermore, Bach probably wouldn't have minded terribly if an instrument with the expressive range of the piano had existed in his time.

I'm curious as to whether or not the purists need to hear the Solo Cello Suites on a scratchy da gamba as well. Personally I can't imagine a less pleasant experience.

I, too, am odd about my Bach. Anything orchestral, be it Cantatas, Concertos, Overtures, I prefer hearing on period instruments. But for any of the solo instrumental works, I prefer the sonorities of modern instruments. The same goes for the Sonatas for Violin & Keyboard and Cello & Keyboard.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:10 pm

ContrapunctusIX wrote:regardless of what grumblings purists might have, Bach loved to transcribe his works for other instruments. I highly doubt that he would have had any objections to hearing his keyboard works played on a piano. The keys are, after all, laid out in just the same fashion. Furthermore, Bach probably wouldn't have minded terribly if an instrument with the expressive range of the piano had existed in his time.

I'm curious as to whether or not the purists need to hear the Solo Cello Suites on a scratchy da gamba as well. Personally I can't imagine a less pleasant experience.

I, too, am odd about my Bach. Anything orchestral, be it Cantatas, Concertos, Overtures, I prefer hearing on period instruments. But for any of the solo instrumental works, I prefer the sonorities of modern instruments. The same goes for the Sonatas for Violin & Keyboard and Cello & Keyboard.
The De Gamba sonatas are wonderful works, the only alternate to Cello for the solo suites is the Viola, I have a fantastic pair of discs on DoReMi by Lilian Fuchs.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Fuchs-Legacy- ... B00079W8PY

Bach would have allowed the use of a piano in keyboard works. But I still prefer harpsichord for the Goldbergs.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by josé echenique » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:17 pm

barney wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote:<I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.>

There are no "arguments" for the harpsichord, Bach composed it for that instrument.
Of course, but I too prefer the modern piano. I admit I'm weird. I greatly prefer the piano for all solo Bach, but I can't tolerate it for anything in which other instruments are also playing, and that goes double for the concertos.

Does that mean no pianos are allowed? Cellos can't play music written for viola da gamba? Are you equally puritannical about other aspects of period performance practice? Only gut strings? No vibrato? Must I travel by horse and carriage to a Bach concert? Nothing is allowed to move on? It seems a curious position, even without my extrapolations.
Pianos are of course welcome in Bach, but Bach composed his music for a different instrument: the cembalo, and that will never change, till the end of time. When you hear Bach in the piano, you are listening to a transcription.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:40 pm

barney wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote:<I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.>

There are no "arguments" for the harpsichord, Bach composed it for that instrument.
Of course, but I too prefer the modern piano. I admit I'm weird. I greatly prefer the piano for all solo Bach, but I can't tolerate it for anything in which other instruments are also playing, and that goes double for the concertos.

Does that mean no pianos are allowed? Cellos can't play music written for viola da gamba? Are you equally puritannical about other aspects of period performance practice? Only gut strings? No vibrato? Must I travel by horse and carriage to a Bach concert? Nothing is allowed to move on? It seems a curious position, even without my extrapolations.
Oh come on, Barney, I'm not trying to be prescriptive, just stating a personal preference which I admitted up front is peculiar. And I wouldn't walk away from a harpsichord performance of any solo keyboard works. (I have walked away from the concertos played on piano, though.) My first Goldberg was Leonhardt, who hasn't even been mentioned here, and somewhere I have hanging around a recording of the French and English suites with harpsichord (plus the Landowska WTC to the extent that it counts).

To Chalkie and ContrapunctusIX, the gamba sonatas are a good example of my preference for harpsichord when other instruments are involved. This is not the same as preferring period instruments for the chamber works. I still prefer harpsichord even if the melody instrument is a modern one, as is the case in the recordings of the flute sonatas by Jean-Pierre Rampal and Robert Veyron-Lacroix. (Whether the cello counts as a modern version of the viola da gamba for this purpose I will leave to others, since I have only ever listened to performances using the latter. All I can say is that Bach thought the gamba distinctive enough to use it as an obbligato instrument in the St. John Passion when there were plenty of cellos available.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by slofstra » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:54 pm

barney wrote:I have Fischer's WTC. That list above is Goldbergs. Sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned the WTC. Re-reading, I can see I muddied the waters.
My bad. It was ambiguous but for some strange reason I chose the less likely interpretation, not for the first or last time.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by slofstra » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:56 pm

barney wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote:<I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.>

There are no "arguments" for the harpsichord, Bach composed it for that instrument.
Of course, but I too prefer the modern piano. I admit I'm weird. I greatly prefer the piano for all solo Bach, but I can't tolerate it for anything in which other instruments are also playing, and that goes double for the concertos.

Does that mean no pianos are allowed? Cellos can't play music written for viola da gamba? Are you equally puritannical about other aspects of period performance practice? Only gut strings? No vibrato? Must I travel by horse and carriage to a Bach concert? Nothing is allowed to move on? It seems a curious position, even without my extrapolations.
Of all those, the horse and carriage to a Bach concert seems the most compelling. At least if the weather is nice, although a sleigh (with bells) could be nice also.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by scififan » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:30 pm

Amongst the piano transcriptions, I enjoy the live Barenboim performance. Wanda Landowska does an interesting performance on the harpsichord from the fifties--though the harpsichord is certainly not a Baroque period instrument. I also rather enjoy the transcription for Jazz Trio by Jacque Loussier! :oops:

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:49 pm

scififan wrote:Amongst the piano transcriptions, I enjoy the live Barenboim performance. Wanda Landowska does an interesting performance on the harpsichord from the fifties--though the harpsichord is certainly not a Baroque period instrument. I also rather enjoy the transcription for Jazz Trio by Jacque Loussier! :oops:
Oh don't "oops" for liking a jazz adaptation; just please don't call it a transcription. :) Performances on the piano are also not that, but just straight performances on another kind of keyboard using exactly the same score. We've had threads on the Pleyel harpsichord, which is now only well known because of Landowska, but which has a bigger story than just her.

I'm sorry to make that sound like a pedantic correction, because your posts have certainly not offended with wrong terminology, but a transcription is a musically faithful arrangement for different forces (e.g., the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for orchestra), and the distinction is important.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:26 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
barney wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote:<I'm familiar with the arguments for harpsichord, but I find the greater expressiveness of the piano compelling.>

There are no "arguments" for the harpsichord, Bach composed it for that instrument.
Of course, but I too prefer the modern piano. I admit I'm weird. I greatly prefer the piano for all solo Bach, but I can't tolerate it for anything in which other instruments are also playing, and that goes double for the concertos.

Does that mean no pianos are allowed? Cellos can't play music written for viola da gamba? Are you equally puritannical about other aspects of period performance practice? Only gut strings? No vibrato? Must I travel by horse and carriage to a Bach concert? Nothing is allowed to move on? It seems a curious position, even without my extrapolations.
Oh come on, Barney, I'm not trying to be prescriptive, just stating a personal preference which I admitted up front is peculiar. And I wouldn't walk away from a harpsichord performance of any solo keyboard works. (I have walked away from the concertos played on piano, though.) My first Goldberg was Leonhardt, who hasn't even been mentioned here, and somewhere I have hanging around a recording of the French and English suites with harpsichord (plus the Landowska WTC to the extent that it counts).

To Chalkie and ContrapunctusIX, the gamba sonatas are a good example of my preference for harpsichord when other instruments are involved. This is not the same as preferring period instruments for the chamber works. I still prefer harpsichord even if the melody instrument is a modern one, as is the case in the recordings of the flute sonatas by Jean-Pierre Rampal and Robert Veyron-Lacroix. (Whether the cello counts as a modern version of the viola da gamba for this purpose I will leave to others, since I have only ever listened to performances using the latter. All I can say is that Bach thought the gamba distinctive enough to use it as an obbligato instrument in the St. John Passion when there were plenty of cellos available.)
Sorry, I plucked the wrong quote. My question was intended to be directed at Jose, not you. And he has replied, so that's all fine. After all, you specifically approved the modern piano. I am probably happy with what seems the consensus, modern instruments for solo and small chamber, period for cantatas, larger works. But I am happy to enjoy the concertos on piano.

In short, I'm just a happy person. :D

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:28 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
scififan wrote:Amongst the piano transcriptions, I enjoy the live Barenboim performance. Wanda Landowska does an interesting performance on the harpsichord from the fifties--though the harpsichord is certainly not a Baroque period instrument. I also rather enjoy the transcription for Jazz Trio by Jacque Loussier! :oops:
Oh don't "oops" for liking a jazz adaptation; just please don't call it a transcription. :) Performances on the piano are also not that, but just straight performances on another kind of keyboard using exactly the same score. We've had threads on the Pleyel harpsichord, which is now only well known because of Landowska, but which has a bigger story than just her.

I'm sorry to make that sound like a pedantic correction, because your posts have certainly not offended with wrong terminology, but a transcription is a musically faithful arrangement for different forces (e.g., the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for orchestra), and the distinction is important.
I agree with you re transcription, but you've just contradicted Jose, who says Bach on piano is a transcription. I know what he means though.

bigshot
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by bigshot » Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:16 pm

I like Rosalyn Tureck's live performance at the home of Wm F Buckley.

josé echenique
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by josé echenique » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:27 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
scififan wrote:Amongst the piano transcriptions, I enjoy the live Barenboim performance. Wanda Landowska does an interesting performance on the harpsichord from the fifties--though the harpsichord is certainly not a Baroque period instrument. I also rather enjoy the transcription for Jazz Trio by Jacque Loussier! :oops:
Oh don't "oops" for liking a jazz adaptation; just please don't call it a transcription. :) Performances on the piano are also not that, but just straight performances on another kind of keyboard using exactly the same score. We've had threads on the Pleyel harpsichord, which is now only well known because of Landowska, but which has a bigger story than just her.

I'm sorry to make that sound like a pedantic correction, because your posts have certainly not offended with wrong terminology, but a transcription is a musically faithful arrangement for different forces (e.g., the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for orchestra), and the distinction is important.
I remember a lecture I attended with the late George Malcolm who indeed called playing the Goldberg Variations on the piano a "transcription" since adjustments had to be made to the score, since I´m not a professional musician -nor even an amateur one, LOL- can´t remember exactly what those were, but I´ll never forget him describing the switch of instrument as a transcription.

jbuck919
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:26 pm

josé echenique wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
scififan wrote:Amongst the piano transcriptions, I enjoy the live Barenboim performance. Wanda Landowska does an interesting performance on the harpsichord from the fifties--though the harpsichord is certainly not a Baroque period instrument. I also rather enjoy the transcription for Jazz Trio by Jacque Loussier! :oops:
Oh don't "oops" for liking a jazz adaptation; just please don't call it a transcription. :) Performances on the piano are also not that, but just straight performances on another kind of keyboard using exactly the same score. We've had threads on the Pleyel harpsichord, which is now only well known because of Landowska, but which has a bigger story than just her.

I'm sorry to make that sound like a pedantic correction, because your posts have certainly not offended with wrong terminology, but a transcription is a musically faithful arrangement for different forces (e.g., the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for orchestra), and the distinction is important.
I remember a lecture I attended with the late George Malcolm who indeed called playing the Goldberg Variations on the piano a "transcription" since adjustments had to be made to the score, since I´m not a professional musician -nor even an amateur one, LOL- can´t remember exactly what those were, but I´ll never forget him describing the switch of instrument as a transcription.
OK, I'll back off, a little anyway. :) There are a number of variations where two manuals are specified, so sometimes an adjustment has to be made to keep the hands from interfering with each other and maintain the clarity of the lines. However, I doubt any player actually uses a different score; they just figure out the fingering. (Some of the specifics of this are in the Wikipedia article.)

Now if someone wanted to play them on the guitar.... ;)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

barney
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:11 am

josé echenique wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
scififan wrote:Amongst the piano transcriptions, I enjoy the live Barenboim performance. Wanda Landowska does an interesting performance on the harpsichord from the fifties--though the harpsichord is certainly not a Baroque period instrument. I also rather enjoy the transcription for Jazz Trio by Jacque Loussier! :oops:
Oh don't "oops" for liking a jazz adaptation; just please don't call it a transcription. :) Performances on the piano are also not that, but just straight performances on another kind of keyboard using exactly the same score. We've had threads on the Pleyel harpsichord, which is now only well known because of Landowska, but which has a bigger story than just her.

I'm sorry to make that sound like a pedantic correction, because your posts have certainly not offended with wrong terminology, but a transcription is a musically faithful arrangement for different forces (e.g., the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for orchestra), and the distinction is important.
I remember a lecture I attended with the late George Malcolm who indeed called playing the Goldberg Variations on the piano a "transcription" since adjustments had to be made to the score, since I´m not a professional musician -nor even an amateur one, LOL- can´t remember exactly what those were, but I´ll never forget him describing the switch of instrument as a transcription.
I'm certainly not going to fall out over that definition. I agree that George Malcolm probably knows even more than I do about Bach in general and the Goldbergs in particular. But of course I am generous to a fault...

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Mookalafalas » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:11 am

Funny, this topic coming up just now. I just bought the cheap sony mini-box of Gould's Bach, and set a stereo up in my bedroom, with speakers on both bed-side tables, pointed in towards my (and my wife's) head. Last night when I went to bed, and this morning before I (quite) got up I played Bach...and it was wonderful. Like wearing headphones, without the irritation. When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Call me Al (cuz its my name)

maestrob
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by maestrob » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:29 pm

Mookalafalas wrote:Funny, this topic coming up just now. I just bought the cheap sony mini-box of Gould's Bach, and set a stereo up in my bedroom, with speakers on both bed-side tables, pointed in towards my (and my wife's) head. Last night when I went to bed, and this morning before I (quite) got up I played Bach...and it was wonderful. Like wearing headphones, without the irritation. When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Perahia is, for me, the king of the Goldbergs. Gould had to edit practically every note in order to record what, to him, was a perfect performance, and that takes away from the spontaneity, I think. I know I'm in a minority here, and will freely admit that in 1955 Gould's interpretation was revelatory. I just think that since then, there have been many recordings that have equaled or surpassed Gould's more famous one. (Tipo, Feltsman, Perahia, etc.)

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:38 pm

maestrob wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:Funny, this topic coming up just now. I just bought the cheap sony mini-box of Gould's Bach, and set a stereo up in my bedroom, with speakers on both bed-side tables, pointed in towards my (and my wife's) head. Last night when I went to bed, and this morning before I (quite) got up I played Bach...and it was wonderful. Like wearing headphones, without the irritation. When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Perahia is, for me, the king of the Goldbergs. Gould had to edit practically every note in order to record what, to him, was a perfect performance, and that takes away from the spontaneity, I think. I know I'm in a minority here, and will freely admit that in 1955 Gould's interpretation was revelatory. I just think that since then, there have been many recordings that have equaled or surpassed Gould's more famous one. (Tipo, Feltsman, Perahia, etc.)
I'm not sure if you're in a minority at all. Without intending to remove myself from the list of Gould's Goldberg admirers, virtually everyone who has commented on him has included qualifications. To yours could be added the video of him recording, now I can't remember if it was the Goldberg or other Bach, making take after take in which each performance sounded identical to the last one to everyone but himself. If a MIDI with a mechanical interface had been available, I wonder how he could have preferred his own "manual" performances over what he could accomplish with the computer--or how the recording would ever have been released as he tweaked himself into eternity.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

barney
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:47 pm

Mookalafalas wrote:When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Well said. One often combines mixed emotions with Gould. No one separates the voices as clearly as Gould and reveals the inner workings but he is often wilfully idiosyncratic, cf Beethoven sonatas.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by slofstra » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:59 pm

maestrob wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:Funny, this topic coming up just now. I just bought the cheap sony mini-box of Gould's Bach, and set a stereo up in my bedroom, with speakers on both bed-side tables, pointed in towards my (and my wife's) head. Last night when I went to bed, and this morning before I (quite) got up I played Bach...and it was wonderful. Like wearing headphones, without the irritation. When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Perahia is, for me, the king of the Goldbergs. Gould had to edit practically every note in order to record what, to him, was a perfect performance, and that takes away from the spontaneity, I think. I know I'm in a minority here, and will freely admit that in 1955 Gould's interpretation was revelatory. I just think that since then, there have been many recordings that have equaled or surpassed Gould's more famous one. (Tipo, Feltsman, Perahia, etc.)
I could be wrong, but I don't think he was in to heavy tape editing back in 1955. That came later when he became reclusive and virtually lived in the studio. Perhaps you were referring to the 1981 recording, but again, I'm not sure that that recording was heavily edited either.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Tarantella » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:55 pm

barney wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Well said. One often combines mixed emotions with Gould. No one separates the voices as clearly as Gould and reveals the inner workings but he is often wilfully idiosyncratic, cf Beethoven sonatas.
Barney, I love your prose and your comments about Gould. "Willfully idiosyncratic" - I love this expression - describes this perfectly and this is the problem many people have with Gould. It often becomes more Gould than Bach. It's OK to talk about poetic interpretations but, in the age of HIP, I would have thought that fidelity to the score is an important aesthetic consideration and I'm not sure Gould ticks all the boxes here.

I gather that he was generally like this in his whole life, thanks to information I'm getting from somebody who is reading his biography. In many ways he was a sad individual - lonely, self-centered and completely lacking empathy: in short, those skills which are fundamental to understanding and interpreting music, paradoxically enough.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by josé echenique » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:08 pm

Image

And talking about transcriptions this may be the most popular the Goldberg Variations has ever had other than the piano. It was made by Dmitry Sitkovetsky for string trio. It is definitely well done but a very different work emerges, sounding not unlike Mozart´s great Divertimento K.563. It is very successful, there are more than 6 recordings available, but I like this one with gut strings.

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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:30 pm

slofstra wrote:
maestrob wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:Funny, this topic coming up just now. I just bought the cheap sony mini-box of Gould's Bach, and set a stereo up in my bedroom, with speakers on both bed-side tables, pointed in towards my (and my wife's) head. Last night when I went to bed, and this morning before I (quite) got up I played Bach...and it was wonderful. Like wearing headphones, without the irritation. When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Perahia is, for me, the king of the Goldbergs. Gould had to edit practically every note in order to record what, to him, was a perfect performance, and that takes away from the spontaneity, I think. I know I'm in a minority here, and will freely admit that in 1955 Gould's interpretation was revelatory. I just think that since then, there have been many recordings that have equaled or surpassed Gould's more famous one. (Tipo, Feltsman, Perahia, etc.)
I could be wrong, but I don't think he was in to heavy tape editing back in 1955. That came later when he became reclusive and virtually lived in the studio. Perhaps you were referring to the 1981 recording, but again, I'm not sure that that recording was heavily edited either.
Maybe not edited in the traditional sense, but he certainly played the movements individually. I always thought, maybe hoped is a better word, that he just tore thru the 1955 recording. With minor edits later. I mean, yer man's a genius, so my hope remains pure.
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:33 pm

Tarantella wrote:
barney wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Well said. One often combines mixed emotions with Gould. No one separates the voices as clearly as Gould and reveals the inner workings but he is often wilfully idiosyncratic, cf Beethoven sonatas.
Barney, I love your prose and your comments about Gould. "Willfully idiosyncratic" - I love this expression - describes this perfectly and this is the problem many people have with Gould. It often becomes more Gould than Bach. It's OK to talk about poetic interpretations but, in the age of HIP, I would have thought that fidelity to the score is an important aesthetic consideration and I'm not sure Gould ticks all the boxes here.

I gather that he was generally like this in his whole life, thanks to information I'm getting from somebody who is reading his biography. In many ways he was a sad individual - lonely, self-centered and completely lacking empathy: in short, those skills which are fundamental to understanding and interpreting music, paradoxically enough.
If he were here, which he's not, I think Glenn would call his own playing (at least of Bach ) to be blissfully idiosyncratic...
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Tarantella
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Tarantella » Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:37 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Tarantella wrote:
barney wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Well said. One often combines mixed emotions with Gould. No one separates the voices as clearly as Gould and reveals the inner workings but he is often wilfully idiosyncratic, cf Beethoven sonatas.
Barney, I love your prose and your comments about Gould. "Willfully idiosyncratic" - I love this expression - describes this perfectly and this is the problem many people have with Gould. It often becomes more Gould than Bach. It's OK to talk about poetic interpretations but, in the age of HIP, I would have thought that fidelity to the score is an important aesthetic consideration and I'm not sure Gould ticks all the boxes here.

I gather that he was generally like this in his whole life, thanks to information I'm getting from somebody who is reading his biography. In many ways he was a sad individual - lonely, self-centered and completely lacking empathy: in short, those skills which are fundamental to understanding and interpreting music, paradoxically enough.
If he were here, which he's not, I think Glenn would call his own playing (at least of Bach ) to be blissfully idiosyncratic...
....and in the most ultra-serious, sententious manner ... sans humour!!

Mookalafalas
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by Mookalafalas » Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:48 am

Tarantella wrote: this is the problem many people have with Gould. It often becomes more Gould than Bach. It's OK to talk about poetic interpretations but, in the age of HIP, I would have thought that fidelity to the score is an important aesthetic consideration and I'm not sure Gould ticks all the boxes here.
Wasn't it a long, honored tradition in the not-to-distant past (I mean up until recording music became standard) for soloists to reinterpret works to best connect with their own style? The whole HIP movement has been very refreshing and exciting, but your "tick all the boxes" comment is very interesting, suggesting a kind of formulaic way to reach a certain bedrock of textual accuracy, or temporal authenticity. I suspect that once HIP-ness reaches a certain stage, there will be a counter movement. The pendulum will swing in the opposite direction and Gould's "willfully idiosyncratic" style will come back into fashion, and we'll see some pretty shocking--and hopefully thrilling--liberties taken with hallowed scores. Sounds vulgar now, but I suspect when the time comes, we'll all be getting little bored and be ready for some more adventurous approaches.
Call me Al (cuz its my name)

barney
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Re: Comparing Goldbergs

Post by barney » Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:02 am

Tarantella wrote:
barney wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:When Gould gets going, it's like he has three hands, and the interior melodic lines really shine. In general I much prefer Perahia, but when Gould connects with Bach, it's magical.
Well said. One often combines mixed emotions with Gould. No one separates the voices as clearly as Gould and reveals the inner workings but he is often wilfully idiosyncratic, cf Beethoven sonatas.
Barney, I love your prose and your comments about Gould. "Willfully idiosyncratic" - I love this expression - describes this perfectly and this is the problem many people have with Gould. It often becomes more Gould than Bach. It's OK to talk about poetic interpretations but, in the age of HIP, I would have thought that fidelity to the score is an important aesthetic consideration and I'm not sure Gould ticks all the boxes here.

I gather that he was generally like this in his whole life, thanks to information I'm getting from somebody who is reading his biography. In many ways he was a sad individual - lonely, self-centered and completely lacking empathy: in short, those skills which are fundamental to understanding and interpreting music, paradoxically enough.
Thank you. I'm not sure what Gould made of the HIP movement - he did live on to see its birth; perhaps the biography you are reading will tell you. It's an interesting point - and, I think, correct - that his personality dysfunctions affected his music, for good and ill.

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