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Great Perf: 2&3 Part Invention

Glenn Gould , Bach Johann Sebastian Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 9.49 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Invention No. 1 in C Major, BWV 772
2. Sinfonia No. 1 in C Major, BWV 787
3. Invention No. 2 in C minor, BWV 773
4. Sinfonia No. 2 in C minor, BWV 788
5. Invention No. 5 in E-flat Major, BVW 776
6. Sinfonia No. 5 in E-flat Major, BWV 791
7. Invention No. 14 in B-flat Major, BWV 785
8. Sinfonia No. 14 in B-flat Major, BWV 800
9. Invention No. 11 in G minor, BWV 782
10. Sinfonia No. 11 in G minor, BWV 797
11. Invention No. 10 in G Major, BVW 781
12. Sinfonia No. 10 in G Major, BWV 796
13. Invention No. 15 in B minor, BWV 786
14. Sinfonia No. 15 in B minor, BWV 801
15. Invention No. 7 in E minor, BWV 778
16. Sinfonia No. 7 in E minor, BWV 793
17. Invention No. 6 in E Major, BWV 777
18. Sinfonia No. 6 in E Major, BWV 792
19. Invention No. 13 in A minor, BWV 784
20. Sinfonia No. 13 in A minor, BWV 799
See all 36 tracks on this disc

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pour le musicien May 7 2009
Format:Audio CD
Je suis amateur de Bach et de Gould, le mélange de ces deux esprits étant, à mon avis, destinés à s'agencer pafaitement. Mais là... Les études, c'est bien. Mais en écouter tout le long d'un disque d'une heure, c'est autre chose.
J'ai regretté l'achat de ce disque (je ne l'ai écouté qu'une seule fois), surtout pour le prix qui laissait quand même présager autre chose. Pour sensiblement le même prix, "les variations Golberg" sont, de loin, un achat plus judicieux. Pour les novices, un "best of" de Bach s'avère, selon moi, un meilleur achat.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars benchmark for the initiated June 4 2005
By Matthew D. White - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I first heard the Bach Inventions/Sinfonias in a performance by Andras Schiff, which is a terrific album in its own way, should you happen upon it. But nothing could have prepared me for the shock that the Gould performance is. Yet time and repeated listening has made this my own personal favorite performance, as it is one of the most original musical utterances anyone could find anywhere.

For the uninitiated Gould listener, this album is eyebrow-raising. Some might even find it vulgar and off-putting. There's many obstacles in the way: the piano in this recording has serious malfunction, with a pronounced "hiccup" heard in the low-middle range. You'll also have to contend with Gould's creaking, noisy chair, which sometimes makes it sound as if this album were recorded in front of a large bonfire. Then there's the oft-mentioned Gould vocalise, which is more audible than ever here. The tempos are almost bi-polar in nature; either excruciatingly slow or hyper-fast, with not too much gray area in between. If that proves anything, it's that Gould had an almost superhuman technique which allowed him to play clean at extremely fast tempos, and with a profound emotional depth at slower tempos. No one can play as well at slow tempos as Gould does.

It has gotten to the point where I don't even have to make any attempt to block out these extraneous sounds. It's all part of what is, in summation, one of the most highly original and musical Bach albums ever issued.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expect excellence, Get genius July 3 2006
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have to smile at the constant complaints over Gould's many eccentricities, especially in this recording of Bach. If one puts on their memory cap, it is Bach who was the iconoclast of his day, the one who went to jail rather than conform, the one who established modern music with his advocacy of a "well-tempered" instrument. (One wonders what he would think of the incredible Symphonic organs that transformed composition and performance so drastically.)

I simply choose to ignore (or smile at) the occasional hum. When we deal with people we deal with their falacies. Good art is not sterile but (I prefer to think) important, creative and more than anything, human. I am not sure if Gould was not slyly trying to tick off the critics with some of his antics. After the Goldberg I was expecting big things from this album and I was not disappointed. Gould has an inimitable manner in which he seems to imbue each note with his entire being, with all the artistry that he possesses. He excells at structure and has the ability to rework the architecture of a piece (think of his Brahms), maintaining the form while emphasizing a phrase here, a pause there, bringing out an internal melody not apparent in other hands, pouring his soul into each note. He becomes his music as few artists are able to do.

The Inventions were sheer prefection and the 3-parts were even better. It goes without saying that the tone of the instrument was superb. Even after only a few seconds, one easily detects that Gould "touch" - the purity of tone, the clarity of note, the almost imagined hesitancy in the performance as if the artists were still searching for the best presentation. My grade: A
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FOR THE FAITHFUL Aug. 20 2006
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
To get the terminology clear - the 3-part Bach `Inventions' also go by the name of `Sinfonias'. There are 15 2-part and 15 3-part Inventions, and on this disc they are presented grouped in pairs by key, one of each type per pair.

The liner-note makes rather a song and dance of its own about the piano used for the recordings. It apparently suffered certain vicissitudes in the course of being transported around north America, and the first attempts at using it for recording these works had to be abandoned. With patience and perseverance they all got it back into an acceptable condition, and Gould himself contributes a commentary on the matter. He points out certain shortcomings in the sound of the instrument which have then been acutely perceived by others although not so much by myself even after being told about them. The only objective fault I find is a curious subdued `tick', and I can only say that after a lifetime of putting up with far worse on LP this minor blemish gives me no problem whatsoever. As often there is some background vocalising by the maestro himself. This is quiet, it is only intermittent, it is at least tuneful and I am accustomed to it from Gould, and again I simply could not care less. What I would say is that I like the sound of the instrument in general rather less than on some of Gould's other recordings, and that is a perception of my own and not something I have been told to look for, but once again it bothers me very little indeed.

The playing itself is exactly as one would expect it to be. The touch is non-legato, the precision of the fingerwork is phenomenal, little or no use is made of the pedals, there is comparatively little in the way of dynamic variation but there are enormous contrasts in the speeds adopted. This is Gould as we know him and either love him or do not love him. Myself, I find him a prodigy of the first magnitude, and in Bach he has never done any wrong from my point of view. You will not be amazed to be told that I recommend this disc wholeheartedly despite any minor reservations, and I have done what I can to make it clear what I consider recommendable and why.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant June 23 2006
By Michael McKay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Although the miniature Inventions and Sinfonias aren't the colossal technical masterworks of other Bach pieces like The Art of Fugue and the Goldberg Variations, they're just as emotional and thoughtful in their own way (you wouldn't criticize a sonnet for not having the narrative sweep of an epic poem). As always, Gould has great clarity and breathtaking virtuosity. But on this particular album, it has a musicality and charm that I sometimes find lacking in his other recordings; he seems to be having a great time performing these pieces. The extra material provides some interesting rethinking of three of the sinfonias, and the outtakes allow you to hear how Gould put them together

A great recording that is both emotionally and intellectually satisfying.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reissued for the 17th time with greatly improved sound! July 26 2007
By PH-50-NC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Great recording. I'm not going to review Gould's playing here.

Amazon's editorial copy states "Perhaps best of all, the remastered sound is much better than that on previous issues of the disc". The "Glenn Gould Edition" from 1992 touted "High Definition Remastering", with Sony's patented "Super Bit Mapping" system. The implication was that all those craptacular late-1980s CD rushed to the market simply to fill the retail racks were a thing of the past, and Sony was doing it right--doing it, well...Super!!

Sigh...since that supposedly definitive "Glenn Gould Edition(TM)" of 1992, there's been the "70th Anniversary Edition" and a new "Sony Masterworks Edition". Always with the promise of better sound than the last time you ponied up for the same recording. I wish instead of touting basically meaningless jargon like "High Definition Remastering", CDs would come with disclaimers like "Engineer Joe Smith bumped up the upper-mid range frequencies to make the recording sound warmer, and added a touch of reverb as well", or "Engineer Mary Johnson stripped away all previous post-production effects and mastered this CD with completely neutral equalization, as her preference is for a dry, clean sound". That's what remastering comes down to--personal preferences by audio engineers as to how to equalize a given tape. It's not an objective science, something that is always improving as more digital bits become available in the equipment (mastering equipment hasn't improved at the breakneck pace that, say, laptop computers have over the last two decades).

This reissue may well sound better than the 1992 Glenn Gould edition. Or it might just sound different. I sure wish Sony (and all the major labels) would play it straight and simply tell people what the differences are, if they expect people to buy the same CD in three or four different editions.

Edit: In the case of the 1955 Goldberg variations, I prefer the sound of the earlier Glenn Gould Edition release to the recent 3-CD package that includes both of Gould's versions [though the 1981 'Goldberg Variations' did need to be remastered using the analog backup tape, and at least there Sony gave a clear description of the problem and rational for a reissue]. For the 1955 version, the earlier edition just sounds clearer and less tampered with, while the recent release sounds more distant and the notes less defined.
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