Piano Concerto No.1 Import
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|5. Excerpt Of New York Philharmonic Intermission Radio Interview|
The circumstances surrounding this April 6, 1962 concert at Carnegie Hall are as legendary as the performance itself. Pianist Gould desired to play the piece at a slower-than-usual tempo, Bernstein (who was conducting the New York Philharmonic) did not. Gould prevailed, but Bernstein shared his disavowal in an infamous pre-concert speech to the audience. This CD-the concert recording's first authorized release-includes Bernstein's speech, the complete performance and a revealing Glen Gould interview recorded two years later.
Newly remastered from a Voice of America mono off-line aircheck, one hears more detail and ambiance here than in previous reissues of this controversial performance taped live at Carnegie Hall April 6th, 1962. The conductor's infamous "disclaimer" disassociating himself from Glenn Gould's slow tempi is preserved along with a snippet from an interview in which Gould defends both his interpretation and Bernstein's actions. The first movement starts slow, but insidiously speeds up to a tempo not far from the norm. Flickering in and out of Bernstein's turgid orchestral backdrop, Gould downplays the music's fiery intensity, seeking to emphasize its meditative qualities and contrapuntal implications. If Sony wanted to issue a Gould Brahms D- Minor, why not the more incisive, and far better-engineered October 1962 Baltimore version? --Jed Distler
Top Customer Reviews
He is one of the few people who can play Bach on the piano and make it sound like Baroque music. Too many pianists play Bach way too broadly.
I must admit to not being a fan of the music of Brahms. Indeed, I am not a big fan of the 19th century in general. My record collection goes from Bach and Beethoven to Mahler and Schoenberg to Carter and Cage. Plus post bop jazz.
Lately I have been trying to listen more to the 19th century and I have found that by looking at the performers I like in other periods, I have been able to find interesting recordings of 19th century music. I really enjoy Gould doing Brahms' chamber music.
So, straight from the Toronto Symphony's Glenn Gould 75th Birthday concert, in which this piece was mentioned, I bought it and listened to it, and liked it.
Gould merges the piano more with the orchestra rather than contrasting it so the piano is played more softly, as is the orchestra, making the performance more moody and mysterious rather than bombastic and overly romantic.
The comments by Bernstein at the beginning, and excepts from an interview with Gould at the end nicely sandwich the performance, which, judging by the applause, the audience also loved.
So, I was quite interested in Gould interpretation. The performance is exquisite, but I didn't like the way the remastering was made. I prefer life concerts, but this one looks as if it was recorded in a hospital, in the TB department. Coughing all the time was annoying. And the sound was not polished, looking like an old recording.It is true that it happened quite a long time ago. For this reason I dropped down one star. Other than that, the pianist is a virtuoso, the orchestra looks flawless...and you also benefit of the conductor's speech from the beginning, and a short interview with Glenn.
What can I say, I would recomend this CD only if you are a real fan of GLENN or BERNSTEIN.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Lenny Bernstein was cool, as was the NY Phil. The whole rhubarb over Gould's reading was created by media journalists who got paid by the penny-word: stupid, inane cretins frightened by Art. What a waste of artistic time! Afterwards at the cocktail party following this performance, Lenny told Gould, "You played so beautifully in the cadenza that I almost c**e in my pants [!]" (as cited in Bazzana, Wondrous Strange: the Life and Art of Glenn Gould).
It's really a shame that a decent recording wasn't made miked close to Gould's piano. What a loss for Art!
I'm not sure if this 1962 live recording of Brahms's mighty Piano Concerto No. 1 helps support my conclusions about Bernstein's added vitality in the concert hall compared to the studio, however, as right off we have Bernstein's pre-performance pronouncement that this performance will have significantly broader tempi, yielding to the wishes of his soloist, Glenn Gould. While others have provided the background on the historic nature of this recording, I will only add that Bernstein's speech is actually quite witty, and the audience laughs and reacts with seeming anticipation. For me, it is episodes like this that make live recordings worthwhile! Repeated listening of this speech, however, could grow tiresome during casual listening.
My experience with Brahms's first Piano Concert has centered on two recordings, the Curzon/Szell/London Symphony recording on Decca and the Douglas/Sinaisky/USSR Academic Symphony (also live) on Melodiya. While this Gould/Bernstein recording is indeed slower than either of these other excellent recordings that I've enjoyed for years - evident right from the very opening bars of the first movement - it is not that exaggerated or very far outside the bounds of reason (some may even be disappointed by this!). In fact, the pace of the performance seems to foreshadow how Bernstein would evolve later in his career (as others have pointed out, this performance is actually a tad quicker than Bernstein's later DG recording with Zimerman). Gould's playing is contemplative and measured, but never ponderous nor lethargic by any means. At the end of the performance, the audience applauds enthusiastically with none of the reported booing (perhaps the applause is faded out beforehand). Gould claimed he appreciated the booing, sensing that he had made a provocative statement, which he preferred over complacent audience acceptance of his performance ideas.
Being a re-mastered radio broadcast, this recording is not stereo, and it suffers from a quite audible bronchially-congested audience. For purists and audiophiles of modern sound, these problems may make them dismiss this recording out of hand. However, the sound is very clear and ranks with the very best radio broadcast recordings I've heard from this vintage! I do recommend this recording to fans of either Bernstein or Gould and for those willing to survey historic and live performances that have marked important milestones or shaped the discourse of classical music. Indeed, this recording is still discussed on these pages and elsewhere. For me, it is more than just a curiosity and is enjoyable in its own right (given my interest in live recordings).
Before posting this review, I re-listened to the Curzon and Douglas recordings for some direct comparisons. Szell's opening of the first movement for Curzon is faster and more dramatic with a greater sense of forward movement so that the music's structure is better articulated. Curzon's Adagio (second movement) is actually more than two minutes longer than Gould's rendition. And of course, the great Decca sound (recorded a month after the Gould performance) is truly outstanding, even by today's digital recording standards. Douglas' live recording is even faster paced with the expected spontaneity and excitement of a live event with an audience that is amazingly quiet until their fervent applause at the end (indeed, this Melodiya recording is of Douglas' performance at the 8th International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition from July 3, 1986, in which he won the gold medal - clearly, an important milestone event!). I'm sure I'll be pulling the Gould recording off the shelf on occasion, but I'm not replacing either of my studio Curzon or live Douglas recordings anytime soon!
Although, before the performance, Bernstein comments on 'who is the boss' problem in concerto performance, Gould has no interest in dazzling display of piano part. Neither the conductor nor the pianist is the boss here, but the symphonic grandeur of the music itself takes centre stage. It almost sounds like Bruckner symphony with added piano part. The effect is curiously thrilling and deeply romantic as architectural beauty and subtlety of the piano part are more vividly captured in unusually slow tempo. I've never come across more delicate playing of the slow movement since I listen to Fleisher's magical account.
The most unfortunate thing about this recording is the disgraceful audience on their coughing campaign throughout 1st movement. They apparently did not heed what Bernstein said before the performance. They are the miserable narrow-minded kind who believes composer's markings are holy doctrine and denies any other possibilities of interpretations. This recording is a monument to remarkable open-mindedness of the conductor and bravery of the artist as well as a testimony to disgusting conservatism of classical music world in general.