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Thread: Solo Piano: the Gould Standard?

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    Senior Member (Ret) Lenfer's Avatar
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    Question Solo Piano: the Gould Standard?

    Last month my I had a rather meagre repertoire of solo piano. Sparked by a fancy for Chopin, I bought a few CDs that have really bolstered my piano section in my CD library. Rubenstin, Argerich, Ashkenazy, Sokolov the list goes on...

    I woke up this morning to my Boyfriend playing the Well-Tempered Clavier and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. When it comes to Bach for solo piano is Glenn Gould really the gold standard?

    Who do you prefer for Bach and do you have any favoured recordings?

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    Junior Member Dowd's Avatar
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    Admittedly my collection is a bit skimpy for Bach and solo piano but I've been mesmerized my Angela Hewitt's solo Bach, especially her Goldberg Variations and French Suites, both on Hyperion.

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    Senior Member (Ret) Lenfer's Avatar
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    Thanks Dowd, I haven't heard anything by her but I'm off to YouTube to see what I can find.

    I know your not "new" but it's the first time we've spoke so hello. I'm not sure how experiences you are with classical music so I don't want to offend but I'm always happy to help should you need anything.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    The Gould recordings are fantastic, intensely musical, and about as 'eccentric' as it gets. They are one gold standard.

    Ordinarily not a fan of much Bach, {preferring all other than the Thuringian / Saxon 18th century sorts of counterpoint) I can say that a lot of what is performed of Bach, to me, is much abused by the overly pretty / reverent, and-or somewhat 'precious' sort of interpretation, the last best / worse example I can think of having heard (on air) being the already mentioned Ms. Hewitt.

    If it can be had, I strongly recommend the Ralph Kirkpatrick recording of the Goldberg Variations as performed on CLAVICHORD (!) This was Bach's favorite Klavier, its being capable of both dynamic and expression, even allowing for a bit more vibrato on a note or line you would like to bring bit more to the fore. It may be OOP, and was, last I saw it, an LP recording.

    Of the many fine pianists, Rosalyn Turick, etc. Choosing from those, too, is a matter of 'how you like your Bach.'

    Later recordings, on harpsichord or piano, post 1970-80 especially, are more likely to be more 'historically correct,' - or at least more in keeping with what is now thought of as 'informed period practice.' One quality coming to the fore which I believe is truly correct, is all of Bach's keyboard works should be played with more 'notes inegal' - the rhythm a bit more unsprung, and 'swung.' Almost all the suites and much else having come directly from dance forms, it stands to reason this less metronomic rigid approach would not have been instantly dropped the moment the Master was playing a fugue :-)

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    Junior Member Dowd's Avatar
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    Thanks Lenfer! I appreciate it. I consider myself pretty well-versed in Bach, Brahms, and the baroque Italian violinists, but have a ways to go on everything else, so I joined TC to widen my scope of interest.
    Thanks again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenfer View Post
    Thanks Dowd, I know your not "new" but it's the first time we've spoke so hello. I'm not sure how experiences you are with classical music so I don't want to offend but I'm always happy to help should you need anything.

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    Senior Member (Ret) Lenfer's Avatar
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    Not a problem Dowd, I'm a chamber/solo fan most of all although I like pretty much everything to one degree or another. I to joined TC to expand my knowledge.

    Thanks for going into such detail Pretr8 is this the set you mentioned?


    My other half has some Wanda Landowska recordings on harpsichord and I have a Viola de Gamba harpsichord CD which I'm quite found of. Although I like piano more than the harpsichord I guess because I can play the piano but the sound is better to my ear my dynamic.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenfer View Post
    Not a problem Dowd, I'm a chamber/solo fan most of all although I like pretty much everything to one degree or another. I to joined TC to expand my knowledge.

    Thanks for going into such detail Pretr8 is this the set you mentioned?


    My other half has some Wanda Landowska recordings on harpsichord and I have a Viola de Gamba harpsichord CD which I'm quite found of. Although I like piano more than the harpsichord I guess because I can play the piano but the sound is better to my ear my dynamic.
    I 'had' past-tense, a single LP, this may be in that collection, but you would have to find a complete listing for all in that compilation. I also used to have a multiple LP box set of Kirkpatrick playing the Scarlatti Sonatas, on Harpsichord. - (ahem.... here is all near three hours of that!)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2780syr0OU


    I too, find solo harpsichord, any length of time, more than 'difficult' -That is why I strongly recommended the Goldberg Variations on the Clavichord, a still percussive but by far sweeter instrument than the harpsichord. Of the two Gould / Goldberg recordings, I much prefer the one from the mid-late 1950's.

    Dinu Lipatti did at least the first of the Six Partitas (all movements on Youtube): one of the most deeply musically intelligent of many brilliant pianists of the past; 'legendary' Chopin playing as well.

    The concerto fur zwei Klavier, C major (there is another in C minor) is a delight to both listen to and to play.
    I have no idea of the contemporary roster of what's available, or if on pianos. I recall a nice performance from decades ago, Bach / Mozart: Concertos For 2 Pianos; Clara Haskil / Geza Anda , EMI but available only on LP, (amazon's price, New, (a mere pop @ $173.62 for a single LP! Ha ha haaaa Lol) and used @ $21.94 (!)
    Last edited by PetrB; Mar-23-2012 at 04:34.

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    Senior Member itywltmt's Avatar
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    Gould's other-worldly technique makes him, IMHO, the go-to interpreter of Bach on the piano (though he has recoirded some of the Art of the Fugue on the oorgan, which he studied at the RCM in Toronto and graduated in with honours...).

    His style, interpretation and "humming", however, may be an acquired taste.

    Angela Hewitt has a Gould connection - having won the (one-time) Gould piano competition, held maybe a year or two after his death in Toronto. She went on to record a very strong DG recording of the Italian Concerto and other piano works by Bach, that precede her Hyperion recordings, as well as some of the keyboasrd concertos with the CBC Radio Orchestra under Mario Bernardi.

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    Senior Member Webernite's Avatar
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    Charles Rosen's is one of the best recordings of the Art of Fugue on piano, and his Goldbergs are also excellent. Gould has a live recording of the Goldbergs from the 50s that is amazing.

    I like Gulda's WTC, but there are lots of OK recordings of that work. Pinnock is a reliable harpsichordist.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    For the WTC, Arthur Loesser..
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    Gould is the greatest. Everyone else sucks.

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    Senior Member (Ret) Lenfer's Avatar
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    Thanks Ity I that was an interesting snippet of information bout Ms. Hewitt. Still haven't heard Hewitt play I was far too tired last night. As for Gould my other half has the Gould's organ Fugue although I do buy CDs he already has for my own collection. I'm not sure I'm a big fan of organ works enough to buy it for myself.

    I think his interpretation is excellent although I would definetly say that it's Gould interpretation rather than the one J.S. may have had. I don't mind the humming I can see why some might though, for me the biggest issue with Gould's work is that on the CDs I've heard the more you turn up the volume the more noticeable the "hiss" is.

    I didn't know he had a live recording of the GBVs but it explains why there is a 3 disc boxed set, I must go check my boyfriend's CD collection and see if he has it. If not then I'd definitely purchase if I can find it. I shall check out both Rosen and Gulda when I'm not as tired.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72 View Post
    For the WTC, Arthur Loesser..
    Thanks Hilly I will look this up after my nap.
    Last edited by Lenfer; Mar-23-2012 at 18:03.

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    Senior Member misterjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenfer View Post
    I woke up this morning to my Boyfriend playing the Well-Tempered Clavier and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. When it comes to Bach for solo piano is Glenn Gould really the gold standard?
    I have no idea what constitutes great Bach organ and piano except what I like, and Gould fits the bill. His CD collection of The Art of the Fugue that includes both (organ and piano) is very entertaining and rattles around in my head quite nicely.

    Try some solo jazz piano now and then. A nice change of pace.

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    Trust me, GG is the Certified Gold Standard.

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    Senior Member itywltmt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenfer View Post
    I didn't know he had a live recording of the GBVs but it explains why there is a 3 disc boxed set, I must go check my boyfriend's CD collection and see if he has it.
    Read my post on the FOUR versions of the GG Goldberg's
    http://www.talkclassical.com/blogs/i...tory-june.html

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