View RSS Feed

Pierre's Tuesday Blog

The Summer of the Sonata - Part Three

Rate this Entry
Summer of the Sonata
Glenn Herbert Gould (1932-1982)

Part three of the Summer of the Sonata is another installment in our year-long look at Glenn Gould, with sonata works from the baroque, classical and Second Viennese School.

Not unlike the Goldberg Variations, there are some works that are indelibly associated with Gould as an interpreter, and the Berg sonata is one of these – few pianists capture the introspective nature of this work quite as well as he does, and we are fortunate that there are a number of interpretations of his available, including the fine television recording I am featuring in this week’s playlist.

With the possible exception of early CBC performances featuring Gould with partners, there are few recordings of Gould as a chamber recitalist. The set of Bach violin sonatas he recorded with a young Jaime Laredo stand out by the mere fact that this is so rare. Notice how Gould’s playing is, well, somewhat subdued, as he allows Laredo to take center stage in these sonatas. The complete set of sonatas (along with the 1955 Goldbergs) can be found here .

Another notable YouTube posting (all four-plus hours!) is a complete set of Mozart’s piano sonatas by Gould. For the montage, I chose the K. 330 sonata.

I can’t be absolutely sure that Gould recorded all 32 Beethoven sonatas, but he did commit many of them to record as well as leave a fair number of broadcast performances. The Tempest sonata was featured in a Radio-Canada 1960 broadcast of L’heure du concert, and a complete broadcast performance is included in our playlist.

The many Scarlatti keyboard sonatas are well suited for Gould’s unique style and, because the vast majority of them are but a few minutes long, they allow even the less-inclined Gould enthusiast to admire his dexterity. The final sonata I chose, Haydn’s 49th, is a personal favourite. I own Horowitz’s rendition, part of his “last recording”, and (I must admit) find his less rigid approach more enjoyable. It is not to say, however, that Gould’s is less worthy… The reviewers on YouTube seem split on their appreciation of this interpretation!

Happy Listening.


Glenn Gould, piano

Alban BERG (1885 –1935)
Klaviersonate, Op. 1

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Piano Sonata no. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (Der Sturm)

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 –1750)
Sonata for Violin and Clavier in C Minor BWV 1017
(Jaime Laredo, violin)

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685 –1757)
Sonata in G major K 13 L 486
Sonata in D minor "Pastorale" K. 9 (L. 413)
Sonata in D major K 430 (L 4630

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 –1791)
Piano Sonata no 10 in C major K330

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732 –1809)
Piano Sonata in E flat major Hob XVI 49


July 20th, 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Scotland" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel. Read more July 20 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
Likes Sid James liked this post


  1. Sid James's Avatar
    thank you, i'm enjoying the berg sonata now. i've not heard this recording before. interesting contrast to other performances i've heard.