Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

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Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by Lance » Sat Aug 15, 2020 2:09 pm

Amazing how such an important set of recordings by this great and highly individual Canadian pianist is no longer being made available, and if so, ultra-expensive. I see it on Amazon-USA for between $700 to $1,000 or $302 for the memory stick edition. When that set first came out, I acquired the CD edition for $137 USD. The new prices, of course, are plus postage and tax. It is doubtful if Sony will reissue this. It was a stunning tribute to the pianist.
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barney
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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by barney » Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:39 am

I didn't get it, Lance, and that is an abiding regret. I have a fair amount of Gould, of course, but not enough. :D One of the most fascinating and idiosyncratic pianists of the century.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by maestrob » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:48 am

barney wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:39 am
I didn't get it, Lance, and that is an abiding regret. I have a fair amount of Gould, of course, but not enough. :D One of the most fascinating and idiosyncratic pianists of the century.
Unfortunately, I'm in the same boat. I've got so many of his individual releases that I decided to pass on the set, and I find that I'm listening less and less to Gould, preferring others. Gould was, of course, a perfectionist in the studio, and a pioneer in bringing Bach to the into the repertoire, but I now find his approach a bit too dry, and prefer more nuance and passion that later artists have brought to Bach. MHO, of course!

For example, do listen to Beatrice Rana's Goldberg's on American amazon. Her reading sparkles and radiates warmth and joy, a marvel to hear! Once you've done that, buy her remarkable disc! 8)

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:55 am

There were two complete Gould editions in recent years.
This is the more recent one.
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And then this older one, which I have. I listened to it from beginning to end and briefly rated each CD. There's a lot of ups and downs, but it's an amazing experience. When the muse struck Gould the results were singularly monumental. Other times, meh. The quality reflected his mood, and one could say this was less than professional, or one could argue that he was a true artist. I'll go for the latter. I believe a prime motive for a retreat into the recording studio was to obtain artistic control over his output without various pressures.
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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by barney » Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:41 am

slofstra wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:55 am
I believe a prime motive for a retreat into the recording studio was to obtain artistic control over his output without various pressures.
Yes, I understand that to be the case. He was quite open about it. Have you heard the delightful anecdote below?
Gould and Rubinstein were being jointly interviewed on the occasion announcing new releases from both pianists c1965 on Canadian Radio. After playing an excerpt from the new record by Gould, who was famous for multiple takes and edits in his recordings, Rubinstein, not realizing that the microphone was back on, leaned over to Gould and whispered "Now don't you wish you could play it like that?"

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by maestrob » Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:24 am

barney wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:41 am
slofstra wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:55 am
I believe a prime motive for a retreat into the recording studio was to obtain artistic control over his output without various pressures.
Yes, I understand that to be the case. He was quite open about it. Have you heard the delightful anecdote below?
Gould and Rubinstein were being jointly interviewed on the occasion announcing new releases from both pianists c1965 on Canadian Radio. After playing an excerpt from the new record by Gould, who was famous for multiple takes and edits in his recordings, Rubinstein, not realizing that the microphone was back on, leaned over to Gould and whispered "Now don't you wish you could play it like that?"
:D Yes, that's a true story as far as I know.

As I understand it, Gould suffered from really bad nerves about live performances and was, in our more understanding era, a high-functioning autistic personality suffering from what we now cal Asperger's syndrome. He was also a tremendous introvert and quite obsessed with musical perfection. We listeners are all deeply grateful for his magnificent obsession, but my understanding is that he suffered quite a bit emotionally. In those days, the sophisticated treatments that we now have didn't exist, of course. We can only imagine how today's pills might have changed his magnificent talent, perhaps not for the better.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:10 pm

barney wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:41 am
slofstra wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:55 am
I believe a prime motive for a retreat into the recording studio was to obtain artistic control over his output without various pressures.
Yes, I understand that to be the case. He was quite open about it. Have you heard the delightful anecdote below?
Gould and Rubinstein were being jointly interviewed on the occasion announcing new releases from both pianists c1965 on Canadian Radio. After playing an excerpt from the new record by Gould, who was famous for multiple takes and edits in his recordings, Rubinstein, not realizing that the microphone was back on, leaned over to Gould and whispered "Now don't you wish you could play it like that?"
AFAIK, everything was edited in the good old fashioned way - splicing tape and scissors. If only he would have had one of today's electronic player pianoes, which record and play back every touch, pedal and note exactly and allow changing a single bar or even a note. Apparently, Robert Silverman's Beethoven piano set was recorded in this fashion.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:30 pm

Playing through the entire Glenn Gould collection is a bit like Forrest Gump's comment on a box of chocolate, "you never know what you're going to get".
I began recording my responses after CD #45 and this was a few years ago now.
The following had three stars out of three:
47 - Hindemith, Sonatas 1,2,3
51 - Bach, 3 sonatas for Viola da gamba and harpsichord (ft. Leonard Rose)
55 - Bach, 6 sonatas for violin and harpsichord (ft. -Jaime Laredo)
56 - Bach, English Suites
60 (2.5 *) - Bach, Toccatas vol. 2
64 - Haydn, last six sonatas
65 - Bach, Goldberg Variations (1981)
66 (2.5 *) - Brahms, Ballades op.10, Rhapsodies, op. 79
68 - R. Strauss, Sonata in B minor, 5 piano pieces, op. 3
69 (2.5*) - Schumann, Quintet op. 44 &* Quartet, op. 47

Bottom of the barrel -
50 - Bach, French Suites, vol. 2
57 - Sibelius, op. 67, 41
59 - Bach, Toccatas, vol. 1
61 - Bach, Preludes, Fughettas and Fugues, bwv 933 -938, 902, 924-930, others

Now I wonder, year later, what could be so different between volumes 1 and 2 of the Toccatas. It would be interesting to do another run through as my tastes have changed since then.

barney
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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by barney » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:35 am

Even when he was it his most wilfully idiosyncratic he could still be revelatory. I'm thinking for example of his highly eccentric Beethoven sonata 12 in which I have never heard the inner voices so clearly.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 18, 2020 2:44 pm

I don't know enough to say anything on this subject but the NYTimes just did this article yesterday which might interest some of you? Regards, Len



Is Bach Better on Harp?

Parker Ramsay thinks so. He has arranged the “Goldberg” Variations, a keyboard classic, for the modern pedal harp.


By Parker Ramsay

Aug. 14, 2020

I suppose I have some explaining to do to my perplexed fellow musicians, as well as to Glenn Gould devotees. Why? I decided to transcribe Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations — for harp.

I’m the first to admit that my project — a recording comes out Sept. 18 on the record label of King’s College, Cambridge — can sound outré or precious. But I come by it honestly: My musical path has been a tad unorthodox. The child of a harpist and a trombonist, I was home-schooled in rural Tennessee to allow for a weekly rotation of lessons on harpsichord, organ and piano, intermingled with youth orchestra and choir practice (and my mother yelling at me from the kitchen about my harp technique).

At 16, I headed to a small British boarding school before studying history at King’s College while serving as organ scholar there. I then returned to the United States to spend two years learning historical performance at Oberlin and then two with the modern harp at Juilliard.

That’s a lot of different repertories, but the “Goldberg” Variations were one strand of continuity. That continuity also brought some persistent dissatisfaction. When it came to Bach, I was unhappy about the piano’s awkwardness with hand crossings, the harpsichord’s lack of dynamic vitality and the tootiness of organ pipes.


I kept struggling with what my ideal “Goldbergs” might sound like. I wanted the raw pluckiness of the harpsichord, but with the expressive qualities of the piano. About five years ago, I came to realize that the way to hear this work — and most of Bach, for that matter — as I wanted would be to use my first instrument, the modern pedal harp.

Thinking that a piece known almost exclusively on keyboard could be transmuted to harp isn’t so fanciful: Bach himself appears to have often been agnostic on matters of instrumentation. Like many composers of his time, he was constantly borrowing and rearranging his own compositions. The Double Violin Concerto, composed around 1719, turns up some 20 years later as a concerto for two harpsichords. The Preludio from the Third Violin Partita, written in 1720, reappears in 1731 as a Sinfonia to Cantata 29, rescored for organ obbligato and orchestra. And the Siciliano from the second sonata for viola da gamba is better known as “Erbarme dich,” from the “St. Matthew Passion.”

In the 18th century, transcription and arrangement were a means of preservation and dissemination. Bach himself produced solo organ and harpsichord transcriptions of violin and oboe concertos by Vivaldi, Alessandro Marcello and Telemann. His cantata “Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden” is a re-orchestration in full of Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater,” using a Lutheran translation of Psalm 51 in place of the original Latin text. Fast forward to the end of the century, and we find transcriptions of fugues from Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” in Mozart’s and Beethoven’s hands, rescored for string ensembles.

Outright ambiguity exists in some of Bach’s best-known works. “The Art of Fugue” and the ricercars from “The Musical Offering” have no indication as to what forces ought to perform them. There is debate about whether “The Well-Tempered Clavier” was intended for harpsichord or clavichord. And in the curious case of the Fantasia in G, Bach included a single pedal note outside the playable range of any instrument he had access to, but one that would have been commonplace on larger organs in France.

The musicologist Donald Tovey wrote that “Bach wrote on the principle, not that music was written for instruments, but that instruments are made for music.” Since World War I, many musicians have showed us other sides of his work by switching up what the pieces are played on. Wanda Landowska was one of the original iconoclasts, making history with the first harpsichord recording of the “Goldbergs,” after they had been performed solely on the piano for over a century. Stokowski’s and Webern’s atmospheric re-orchestrations of Bach fugues; Wendy Carlos’s mind-blowing “Brandenburg” Concertos on the Moog synthesizer; Chris Thile’s fast-as-lighting mandolin treatments of the Violin Partitas: With many of Bach’s works, there’s now a general recognition that transcription is not only fair game, but even an expectation.


And yet things have been different when it comes to the “Goldberg” Variations, for which the boundaries of performance remain largely defined by the recordings made by the harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt and by Gould, who recorded them twice on piano. Perhaps because of the work’s purity — or austerity, depending how you look at it — transcriptions of the “Goldbergs” are usually seen as novelty projects, somehow stepping on the keyboardist’s turf. While orchestral transcriptions of organ fugues and ricercars have become mainstream, and Busoni’s piano rendition of the great D Minor Chaconne, originally for solo violin, is considered standard rep, no transcription or adaptation of the “Goldbergs” has yet stuck.


There are those who prefer to hear the work as they imagine Bach might have done — on the harpsichord — while others would rather take the variations in on the modern piano, our culture’s go-to instrument (like the harpsichord presumably was in Bach’s). The results are very different: The harpsichord allows for very distinct articulation and encourages rhythmic flexibility, while the piano’s natural suaveness suggests a more straightforward approach.

My solution? Take the piece to the harp. In the opening of Variation 1, keyboardists spend hours trying to amplify instances of implied counterpoint, whereby the left hand jumps around so much that it conceivably represents two voices rather than one. The pianist can differentiate with volume, making the lower notes a little heavier than the smaller notes on top.

The harpsichordist, on the other hand, lengthens the lowest notes as long as possible, to feign some dynamic contrast, while making the upper notes shorter by contrast.

On the harp, one needn’t choose. As the instrument has no damping mechanism, the two voices keep sustaining, while creating some harmonic ambiguity.
Variation 1 on harp
King’s College, Cambridge

In Variation 20, a pianist has to figure out how to make multiple voices ring while the hands are fumbling around one another.

While this is perhaps easier on the harpsichord, the lack of dynamics accentuates the natural dryness of the instrument.

But the harp allows for the bass line to sustain while playing other voices, and is less complicated to perform, as the hands approach the strings from opposite directions.


Everywhere in the “Goldbergs,” the harp’s lengthy “overring” allows harmonies to take over, rather than melodies. This is perhaps apt, as the melody heard at the beginning and end of the work never resurfaces. Indeed, one thing that makes the “Goldbergs” so interesting is that the theme is not in the right hand’s melody, but in the left hand’s harmonic pattern. If one looks to the score, the left hand of the opening Aria is composed in “style brisé” (“broken style”), indicating the continuity and sustenance of multiple voices, akin to the arpeggiated style typical of performances by plucked instruments like the lute and harp.

The harp isn’t perfect. It struggles with intense chromaticism, since the harpist must use his feet in an elaborate pedal mechanism to achieve sharps and flats. And we only play with eight fingers, as the pinkies are too short. As a result, some tempos have to be slower and the aura of the work becomes quieter and more intimate. (This can actually be an advantage.)

The elephant in the room is that Bach never wrote for the harp, and it’s likely he could not have conceived of an instrument that looked and sounded the way it does. But I never felt I had gotten into Bach’s brain until I took the plunge into transcription. To my mind, his music is written for all instruments and none, and the harp is just another instrument as invisible to Bach as his mind is to us. Time’s distance prevents us from asking the master any questions, so why should we place any restrictions on how and what we inquire of his music?


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/arts ... -harp.html

barney
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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by barney » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:39 pm

Very interesting Len. I have no objection to the project. Good on him. Transcriptions and plagiarism were common among Baroque composers, as you know. But I also have no interest in hearing it.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:55 pm

That sounds like it's worth a listen. Bach's work is the most malleable of all music.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by Lance » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:25 am

Very well written and thought out — and convincing by Parker Ramsay. I happen to love the harp and perceive it to be much more than a mere "heavenly" instrument! And, I love the Goldbergs. I'll be checking this one out.
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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by maestrob » Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:18 am

I;m a great fan of the Goldbergs on piano, and have a few recordings on harpsichord as well, though I refer the expressivity of the modern piano.

Not a great fan of the harp, but will certainly check this out.

Thanks for the article, Len. :)

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:59 am

Chris Thile’s fast-as-lighting mandolin treatments of the Violin Partitas
I just recently heard of this. I have been a fan of Chris Thile for decades, but for his bluegrass work with Nickel Creek, and other musical endeavours including hosting NPR's 'Live from Here', a live roots music show.
So there's another one that is at least worth a kick of the tires.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by maestrob » Wed Aug 19, 2020 11:21 am

slofstra wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:59 am
Chris Thile’s fast-as-lighting mandolin treatments of the Violin Partitas
I just recently heard of this. I have been a fan of Chris Thile for decades, but for his bluegrass work with Nickel Creek, and other musical endeavours including hosting NPR's 'Live from Here', a live roots music show.
So there's another one that is at least worth a kick of the tires.
I've not heard of him until now, and, checking amazon, I find that he's recorded with artists of all persuasions in all kinds of music, including this disc of Bach Trios with Yo-Yo Ma:

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Wed Aug 19, 2020 11:50 am

I'm not sure how well all of these crossover sessions work out, but it is creative and interesting.
Here is Chris Thile as an early teens' mandolin prodigy doing a standard English traditional song in bluegrass. Really, the clip is just to show his raw ability. I've seen the girl on fiddle, Sara Watkins, in concert a couple of times - she has a pretty good career in her own right, and also works with some talented female musicians in a group called "I'm with Her".


(Trigger warning - pop music mentioned in the following, but it is all acoustic!)
Getting a bit beyond classical at this point, but here's what they do all grown up. As fine a constructed pop song as you'll ever find, nice dynamics, no compression, no auto tune and all acoustic instruments.


And if you're still with me, here is what Sarah Watkins, the woman on the fiddle, is up to now with "I'm with Her".
Last edited by slofstra on Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:19 pm

You know how youtube keeps showing you stuff.
Here's one with Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan (banjo presumably) performing a song written by Aoife O'Donovan, who peforms with "I'm with Her", in my previous post.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by Lance » Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:00 pm

You may not always agree with some of Gould's interpretations (such as the live 1962 Brahms PC #1 in D Minor with Bernstein conducting/NYP), but he always seems to leave an impression and, happily, I appreciate his art in nearly everything. This is a wonderful set to have and you may even want to try some of his other recordings on Aristopia, BIS, CBC. Fanfare, Mastersound/Hallmark, Music & Arts (many!), Orfeo, Panclassics, West Hills Archive, and a few others that appear as reprints from other labels.
slofstra wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:30 pm
Playing through the entire Glenn Gould collection is a bit like Forrest Gump's comment on a box of chocolate, "you never know what you're going to get".
I began recording my responses after CD #45 and this was a few years ago now.
The following had three stars out of three:
47 - Hindemith, Sonatas 1,2,3
51 - Bach, 3 sonatas for Viola da gamba and harpsichord (ft. Leonard Rose)
55 - Bach, 6 sonatas for violin and harpsichord (ft. -Jaime Laredo)
56 - Bach, English Suites
60 (2.5 *) - Bach, Toccatas vol. 2
64 - Haydn, last six sonatas
65 - Bach, Goldberg Variations (1981)
66 (2.5 *) - Brahms, Ballades op.10, Rhapsodies, op. 79
68 - R. Strauss, Sonata in B minor, 5 piano pieces, op. 3
69 (2.5*) - Schumann, Quintet op. 44 &* Quartet, op. 47

Bottom of the barrel -
50 - Bach, French Suites, vol. 2
57 - Sibelius, op. 67, 41
59 - Bach, Toccatas, vol. 1
61 - Bach, Preludes, Fughettas and Fugues, bwv 933 -938, 902, 924-930, others

Now I wonder, year later, what could be so different between volumes 1 and 2 of the Toccatas. It would be interesting to do another run through as my tastes have changed since then.
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 &*$#@+#]

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Rach3
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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by Rach3 » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:15 pm

Thanks for all the insights here.I defer to your judgments as my Gould recordings are limited, but I find them all excellent: the 5 keyboard concertos with Bernstein ( the " Arioso" from # 5 was the first playing of Gould I ever heard back when I was about 12-13 );both "Goldberg " ( I prefer the second );Bach's Italian Concerto and 4th Partita ; the three Hindemith piano sonatas; the Beethoven-Liszt 5th Sym.; and Bach's Two and Three Part Inventions and Sinfonias; all cd's except the "Goldberg" are both lp's.

At YT are 2 live videos not in the Columbia edition of course, but worth hearing.

One is a 1962 Moscow TV performance of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gJxOQn5w94

The other a wonderful " Emperor" in 1970 with Karl Ancerl and the Toronto Symphony.The YT comment on that "Emperor":

"Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, was unable to go through with his performance of Beethoven’s Concerto No.5, Emperor, in Toronto. Gould was given a telephone call on Thursday evening. The problem was explained, and he was asked to substitute for Michelangeli the next morning, on Friday, when the Toronto Symphony and the conductor, Karel Ančerl, were scheduled to work with Michelangeli. Gould’s answer was affirmative and good-spirited. In the space of the next few night hours, Gould rehearsed the Concerto he had not touched in four years. The program was televised and, subsequently, aired on September 12, 1970. To everyone’s amazement, Gould played Beethoven’s Concerto in front of the camera flawlessly and by heart."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpz_U8w ... start_radi

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by slofstra » Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:30 pm

I have this set, although I have only dabbled with it. It was very inexpensive when purchased, but now amazon.ca lists it as unavailable.

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Re: Glenn Gould Columbia Edition

Post by Rach3 » Thu Aug 27, 2020 7:01 pm

slofstra wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:30 pm
I have this set, although I have only dabbled with it.
I suspect that CBC set has the 1970 “Emperor” with Ancerl.Recommended !

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