30 Songs, 49 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

3.9 out of 5

17 Ratings
17 Ratings

The performance...

Lutestop

I don't really like the way that these are performed. They're unexpressive I think, and they are usually too slow for my taste. There are better albums for these pieces out there.

A good musician

anonymouspianist

Gould was an intelligent musician; I would never deny that. Unfortunately, though, he really ruined his technique early on. His 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations is wonderful, but by this point, you can clearly hear the change in his playing - the hammers simply sound duller against the strings, and the color is gone from the sound. Intelligent musician or not, if you throw technique out the window, you will not be able to deliver a fully-satisfying performance. So his performances are still intelligent, but I honestly can't listen to them in any more than an academic sense. Get his earlier recording of the Goldberg Variations; that is the reason he is famous, and rightly so.

Absolutely Beautiful!!!

riqiv

Kurt Vonnegut: "If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music."
This is as beautiful as I remember as a child listening to it.
Gould insisted on using a piano that was, from the technician's standpoint, unsalvageable, and the result is a few notes, especially the G above middle C, hiccuped when played. (I thought perhaps my ears were playing tricks on me!)
The humming and singing never bothered me, I had heard jazz musicians like Elvin Jones grunting and Thelonious Monk singing so I was astonished (and touched) to hear a classical musician so enraptured by Bach that he couldn't help but sing.
The recording is not with too much reverb and the playing inspired, sensitive, and beautiful!

About Glenn Gould

The most renowned Canadian classical performer of the 20th century, pianist Glenn Gould remains one of the most fascinating and celebrated figures in all of music, the archetypal riddle wrapped inside an enigma wrapped inside a conundrum. A former child prodigy, his piano artistry was unparalleled, yet he often received less recognition as a virtuoso than as a troubled eccentric; a disconnected recluse notorious for such odd habits as wearing a wool topcoat in the dog days of summer, Gould was a sight to behold even in live performances -- seated on a low chair and slumped over the keyboard, humming (sometimes singing) audibly to himself as he played, all the while conducting with his free hand. Gould's impossible technique and singular behavior were so hotly debated by scholars that often it seemed that his actual skills were negligible; perhaps it's not surprising that at the age of just 31, he left public performance behind forever, turning instead to broadcasting and writing, as well as an almost obsessive exploration of modern recording technology.

Gould was born in Toronto, Ontario, on September 25, 1932, the product of a musical family that included his father, an amateur violinist, and his mother, a pianist and organist; Edvard Grieg was a distant relation as well. Even at the age of three, Gould evidenced prodigious skills -- in addition to his absolute pitch, he was already able to read staff notation, and just two years later he authored his first compositions. At the age of ten, he began lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and in 1944 took home the piano trophy from the annual Kiwanis Music Festival, the only such contest he ever entered in response to his strong opposition to the idea of competitive performance. In 1945, Gould passed his associateship examination as a solo performer at the Royal Conservatory; that same year he offered his first public performance on the organ, a concert reviewed under the headline "Boy, Age 12, Shows Genius as Organist."

At the age of 14, Gould made his debut as soloist at a Royal Conservatory orchestral performance of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto. His first public recital was in 1947, and featured works by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt; his debut network radio recital followed over CBC airwaves in 1950, and marked the beginning of his long relationship with broadcasting and recording. In early 1955, Gould made his New York debut, and within hours signed with Columbia's Masterworks imprint. His first recording, a performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations, became an instant best-seller, and he went on to make over 60 more recordings for the label in the years to follow. In 1957, Gould toured Europe, and at the peak of Cold War tensions he became the first North American ever to perform in the Soviet Union. His concert career continued to great success during the early '60s, but in Los Angeles on April 10, 1964 -- with no advance warning, and without fanfare -- he delivered his final public performance.

Gould's decision to retire from live performances was in part a result of his desire to focus more of his energies on writing, broadcasting, composing, and conducting; his first major new project was a "sound documentary" called The Idea of North, a philosophical musing on the meaning of northern existence. Keeping in contact with the outside world primarily over the telephone, Gould was often out of the spotlight for long periods of time, but in 1981 he broke with his long tradition of not re-recording material to return to the work with which he remained most closely identified, the Goldberg Variations; his decision was motivated in large part by the vast improvements in technology during the quarter century that separated the two recordings. Months later, he formed a Toronto chamber orchestra, serving as their conductor on a recording of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll; it was his last major work -- Gould died on October 4, 1982, after suffering a stroke. He was just 50 years old. ~ Jason Ankeny

HOMETOWN
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
BORN
September 25, 1932

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