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Thread: Goldberg Variations - Who - Glenn Gould?

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    Default Goldberg Variations - Who - Glenn Gould?

    I have the later (81, I think) version of these, and also a version redorded live before his first studio set from 55. This live one is from 54.

    He's famous for this 'piece'.

    Honestly, I love both sets and can't really fault either, personally. They are of a quality that just completely satisfies my requirements and powers of discernment.

    Who else has given a good account of the goldberg variations, and if you're a fan of the Goulds, which is your fav?

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    Senior Member Poppin' Fresh's Avatar
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    Hmm. Very difficult to choose. I enjoy both of Gould's readings for different reasons; the excitement and vitality of the '55 recording, the slower tempo and greater maturity in the '81 version. I suppose I'd go with the '81.

    Perahia's reading is also popular, and I enjoy that one as well, but far less than Gould.

    A similar discussion can be found in this thread.

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    Senior Member muxamed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardgaray View Post
    Who else has given a good account of the goldberg variations ... ?
    Murray Perahia (better than Gould IMHO)

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I like Glenn Gould's 1980's recording better than any other. I've heard bits of Perahia's recording, and it seems like he doesn't make much of the transitions between variations, which ends up displaying a lack of arch over the piece as a whole. One of the things I prefer about Gould's later recording is the directness, the frankness (or starkness, if you prefer; I rather like starkness) about it, which makes Perahia seem positively superficial.

    On piano, for me it's Gould 1981; on harpsichord, it's Masaaki Suzuki.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Cheers guys.

    I wonder what a harpsichord version would be like. I mean, I don't know how people most commonly appreciate the baroque, and how important its oldness is for people, but the Gould I have of this piece does not involve me in a conscious contemplation of a music form, namely baroque, that is from a time and culture that is foreign to me, and that I must somehow observe from outside. Gould's versions are such that I do not feel the questions of relevance or historical context arising.
    I am not sure if the reasons for this are within my reach, but it seems likely that this has as much to do with the pianoforte as Gould. His is an art of the most miraculous breadth of expression which has remianed always - obviously - in the sound, the medium, the instrument of the piano.
    It so happens that I live in a time where the piano is familiar - very familiar - to me; the sound of the harpsichord is strange. Is the harpsichord a sound that anchors the baroque firmly in its proper historical context; that takes it back, in terms of the difference of physicality and timbre, to a 'sound' which is more limited and rudimentary and older?
    Or do contemporary harpsichord players 'contemporize' the instrument?
    Just wondering what these variations would sound like on the harpsichord, how it might change the music, apart from the fact of a different artist, whether this music can only really mean the piano and Gould for me.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Harpsichord interpretation is very different from piano interpretation in a very fundamental way, namely that the harpsichord doesn't have any possible variation in dynamics. Thus the entire interpretation has to be hinged on timing and things like that, whereas on piano you have many more considerations in addition, such as dynamic, attack, and so on.

    And then there's also the sound, which is obviously very different and not really to everyone's liking (I know several people who can't stand the harpsichord sound). Really the entire foundation of performance practice is kind of ridiculous, since its main consideration is playing music like Bach did 300 years ago, as if it really mattered.

    If you prefer piano, go with a great piano performance. If you prefer harpsichord, go with a great harpsichord one. I don't think it makes any difference, but I think you really should hear both since they are so contrasting.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    I have recordings by Kenneth Gilbert and Trevor Pinnock on harpsichord - I enjoy the Gilbert recording.

    I have the 80's recording by Gould. But honestly, the recording that really makes me enjoy the Goldberg Variations is the Perahia recording.

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    Senior Member muxamed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    I've heard bits of Perahia's recording, and it seems like he doesn't make much of the transitions between variations, which ends up displaying a lack of arch over the piece as a whole.
    You need to hear Perahia's whole recording in order to be able to judge his grasp of a piece as a whole.

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    Senior Member nefigah's Avatar
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    One of my personal goals in classical music appreciation is to eventually be able to think half as much of Glenn Gould as many people do. I'm not there yet, however. My current recommendation remains the same as in the other thread on this topic, that Poppin' Fresh linked (Schiff and Perahia).

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    Negifgah, would you mind appending a reason to that intriguing remark?
    What are the most common objections to Gould's style? Brashness and lack of sensitivity in his individualism where it is not suited to the piece, is it? On which recordings is this exemplified?

    Oh, hey, maybe you already outlined your reasons in the linked thread - I'll scoot off there now

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    I think Gould is fine, but his playing seems choppy to me. That and all the damned humming/vocalisations.

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    I dislike the Gould. I prefer the Perahia or the Hewitt.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by richardgaray View Post
    Negifgah, would you mind appending a reason to that intriguing remark?
    What are the most common objections to Gould's style? Brashness and lack of sensitivity in his individualism where it is not suited to the piece, is it? On which recordings is this exemplified?

    Oh, hey, maybe you already outlined your reasons in the linked thread - I'll scoot off there now
    I may have mentioned the vocalizations in the other thread, but I've listened to more of him since then (admittedly, only on youtube), and I just think it's a matter of he and I not seeing eye to eye on some interpretations. For example, he does things with tempi sometimes that I find gratuitous ("look at how deep and ponderous I'm making it!").

    In any case, it's totally no big deal; people like different things. The only thing that stands out in this case is how adored Gould seems to be, and that's what prompted my remark. Like I say, maybe I'll come around eventually

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    Senior Member Poppin' Fresh's Avatar
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    I understand why some don't embrace the Gould performances; they are unique enough where I almost consider them a recontextualization of the piece, but they really connect with me like I said in the other thread.

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    I just find that I really like the idiomatic playing style, and the vocalizations don't bother me in the slightest when there is such great music going on. I prefer more "cerebral" approaches to "romantic" (hence why I prefer Boulez to most other conductors).
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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