Saturday, September 21, 2013

Glenn Gould first time listening

    Some people revile his playing, others adore it. That's Glenn Gould. For my part, count me in the fan side. He's idiosyncratic, but that makes him endearing. He hums at playtime, but I like how it adds to the composition (ok, count me among the heretics as well). If you ever decide to listen to his Bach playing, may I suggest you do so in the following order as I believe it will  bring more delight than doing it randomly :

    1. The Goldberg Variations, 1955 recording. Of course one must start with the Goldberg, not only because it was the 'first' chronologically, but because it sets the tone for the rest of his recordings. If you have never heard this version before, you are in for a good surprise.
    1. The Well Tempered Clavier Vol 1
    2. The Keyboard Concertos (along with Leonard Bernstein). First with the BWV 1055
    3. The English Suites
    4. The French Suites
    5. The Partitas
    6. The Tocattas

    These will give you the most accessible pieces. Probably the most difficult to listen to up to this point are the French Suites. If you have come this far and still want more, you can continue with:

    1. The Well Tempered Clavier Vol 2. I find this one more difficult or 'drier' than Vol 1 for some reason
    1. The Art of Fugue. Gould on the organ!
    2. The 'Italian' album. A miscellany of some pieces he disliked, but quite good nonetheless

    Now, there is also this one which might be saved for last

    1. The sonatas for violin & harpsichord with Laredo

    Wherever you you decide to stop, close with

    1. The 1981 Goldberg Variations

    On the non-Bach front I find the Gibbons album almost a must, while the Hindemith unsortable.  There is also an album with Gould's own compositions, that includes So you want to write a fugue? that for me is mostly a curiosity. There is also a well-regarded Haydn Sonatas album that I've not listened.

    Now that I'm on a roll, I want to also a full-hearted shout-out to Bazzana's biography of Gould Wondrous Strange. It is among the top three of the most enjoyable biographies that I've read. Frequently  'couldn't put it down' is an exaggeration. This time it isn't.


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