- Audio CD (Oct. 25 1990)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Sony
- ASIN: B0000025TP
- Other Editions: Audio Cassette
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
|1. Goldberg Variations: Aria|
|2. Goldberg Variations: Variation 1|
|3. Goldberg Variations: Variation 2|
|4. Goldberg Variations: Variation 3|
|5. Goldberg Variations: Variation 4|
|6. Goldberg Variations: Variation 5|
|7. Goldberg Variations: Variation 6|
|8. Goldberg Variations: Variation 7|
|9. Goldberg Variations: Variation 8|
|10. Goldberg Variations: Variation 9|
|11. Goldberg Variations: Variation 10|
|12. Goldberg Variations: Variation 11|
|13. Goldberg Variations: Variation 12|
|14. Goldberg Variations: Variation 13|
|15. Goldberg Variations: Variation 14|
|16. Goldberg Variations: Variation 15|
|17. Goldberg Variations: Variation 16|
|18. Goldberg Variations: Variation 17|
|19. Goldberg Variations: Variation 18|
|20. Goldberg Variations: Variation 19|
See all 32 tracks on this disc
If you are not familiar with this music or performer then GET familiar with them. The music itself is quite beautiful with a series of variations on a basic harmonic progression (series of chords essentially). However, the endless invention Bach displays in each brilliant section is masterful. The famous "black pearl" variation near the end is quite dark and contrasts greatly with the other pieces. This is very fine keyboard music.
Glenn Gould performs Bach's keyboard music on the piano. Most of these works are generally accepted to have been written for performance on harpsichord or clavichord because of the prominence of those instruments in Bach's day. However, it would be easy to argue that Bach would have no problem with their performance on ANY instrument as transcription, the process of arranging music for an instrument or voice different from the original, was widely practiced in Bach's day.
Gould soars through these pieces at a pace some find too hectic. I would rather that they were somewhat slower but it does not spoil my listening experience. I do not believe I've heard another pianist effectively give fair play to each voice in Bach's standard contrapuntal texture in the same way Gould did. My only concern is with the recording quality. These variations were recorded nearly 50 years ago. Without this knowledge, one could guess closely based on the tape noise. I knock of a star for this but still strongly urge any Bach fan or classical piano fan to pick this one. The cd has been bargain-priced for some time. Take advantage of that fact.
However, it was given a 20-bit remaster in 1992 and re-released as "Glenn Gould Edition - Bach: Goldberg Variations" (Sony Catalog #52594). The remastered version has noticably clearer sound and more music: two fugues from 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' are thrown in as a bonus.
If sound quality is important to you, the remastered version is worth the extra 5 bucks.
Bernhard never met Gould, and Gould wasn't a piano student in Salzburg (in fact, even though Gould is a principal character, the whole novel is a total fiction, albeit a very good one) but listening to Gould's first commercial recording, you can understand the reaction. His intelligence, grace and dexterity are quite amazing. There are players who may be more interested in trying to reproduce the music the way they think Back would've played it, but the results are trivial compared to the insouciance and total commitment of Gould's interpretation. As for self-styled purists who complain that Bach shouldn't be played on the modern piano, their complaints have been comprehensively dismissed by TW Adorno in his great essay on Bach, in which he points out that there's ample evidence that Bach himself wasn't particularly satisfied with the sound of _any_ of the keyboard instruments available to him. (Never mind that you'd have to have a tin ear not to be convinced by Gould's version that the pianoforte is the best instrument to play this stuff on.)
Gould's later version is darker, smokier and slower, but while he liked to criticise the 1955 recording (he commented "there's a lot of 'piano playing' going on") it has a fabulous freshness. The 1959 live version from the Salzburg Festival is equally crackling and brilliant. It also has this benefit over the 1981; the older analog equipment picked up less of his notorious humming, which is initally sort of cute but ultimately an unavoidable nuisance on Gould recordings. (Don't listent to Gould on headphones. Find a quiet room.)
Morning music, in every sense of the word.