My collection of Gould's Bach must be somewhere near complete by now, and my satisfaction at that is going to be tinged with regret when there is no more of it to discover. Through a fluke of the postal system I obtained the second disc of the English suites before this one arrived, and greatly as I enjoyed the other disc I'd say this one is even better. The first 3 suites are comparatively long. Numbers 2 and 3 have 7 movements each, and no 1 has no fewer than 10, so the disc provides quite good value in that sense, although quantity is not what I judge value by in a case like this.
The recordings here were done during 1973, 1971 and 1974 respectively in a studio specially provided for Gould inside a department store in Toronto. As with the second disc, recorded over part of the same period, the tone is very clear but just slightly hard. This is a good fault when the player is Gould and the music is Bach, but the English suites would not be the first things I would think of if I wanted to demonstrate the particular greatness of Gould's Bach to a newcomer. In general Gould does not go in for extreme tempi this time, but the sarabande in no 3 is definitely slow and the final gigue of no 2 barrels along at a speed that recalls some of his more startling exhibitions of velocity elsewhere. As on the second disc, the detached fingering is relieved here and there with a more legato effect and even (I think) a touch of sustaining pedal at times. There is also, in the first gavotte of no 3, a pleasant pastiche-harpsichord effect, suggesting a slightly choked-sounding stop that he obviously liked, to judge by the Handel suites that he recorded on that instrument. At the very start, and again a little later, the maestro is slightly vocal, not something that bothers me in the least.
The liner note is the same as on the second disc, with some very interesting remarks, partly from this garrulous virtuoso himself, on how he went about his recording sessions. There is nothing about the music as such, so in case it needs saying perhaps I should explain that 'agrements' in the sarabandes of nos 2 and 3 does not mean what it means in Debussy's etude with that title, but simply signifies 'ornaments'.
Unless I'm mistaken, the two discs of the English suites are available together as a single set. If that offers a price advantage it's what I'd suggest you go for. What I don't suggest is doing without either of them.