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Bach:Goldberg Vars [CD]

Glenn Gould, Charles Rosen Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 18.19
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Bach:Goldberg Vars + Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - 1981 Digital recording
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000026T0C
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,055 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Charles Rosen - Bach:Goldberg Vars

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOULDBERG 21 Aug 2003
Format:Audio CD
For me, instruments were made for music and not the other way about. I have just been listening with intense enjoyment to the Goldberg variations played by Landowska and I find I can enjoy them equally as presented by Gould. That so wonderful an instrument as the modern piano is at their service is something that makes me grateful to have lived in the era I have.
This is apparently Gould's 1955 reading. If you have read a certain amount about his eccentricities I should put them out of your mind. Listening to this playing just for itself, the word that characterises it more than any other is 'aristocratic'. Michelangeli himself did not have more perfect control of his touch than Gould had of his. I find no eccentricity whatsoever in this account. What I do find is marvellous clean pearly fingerwork, virtually innocent of the sustaining pedal, and what seems like an inborn understanding of the composer. It surely can't all have been as effortless as Gould makes it sound. The theme is grave, poised and simply expressed. The brilliant variations are brilliant indeed, and #14 and #23 are still ringing in my memory. There is any amount of delicacy where required, as in say #7. There are excellent individual touches, like the suggestion of a heavyweight harpsichord at the start of #29. The minor-key numbers, not just the celebrated #25 but #15 and #21 as well, have the solemnity they call for. #25 itself, taken very slowly (the slower the better as far as I am concerned here) has the aching tension that a great performance brings out from it.
The remastering has been done in something called Sony's High Definition 20-bit sound, and the liner note will tell you something about that.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Goldberg Variations at their best 13 Sep 2003
Format:Audio CD
This recording is one of my first classical music CDs. I have listened to various other renderings of the Goldberg Variations since I bought it, but I still haven't found its match. Incidentally, I also own a DVD with a later recording of Gould playing the same piece and I find that the 1955 recording is still the landmark for it.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars flat sound quality diminishes the dynamic range 25 April 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The recording has much of Gould idiosyncracies but his famous "singalong" style is really only apparent in the Aria. The recording dynamic is rather flat and one finds oneself straining to maintain interest throughout the whole recording. It is possible to dip in to one track at atime and still find the real Bach but other recordings give a better overview of the "theme and variations" construction. Not as exiting as Gould can sometimes be, but a valuable member of the Gould collection.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A State of Wonder, Indeed. 8 April 2006
By Paul K. Stadden - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There are three people who are responsible for the "resurrection" of the Goldberg variations, at least as far as the general publicis concerned: Wanda Landoska, Rosalyn Tureck, and Glenn Gould. Without them, the Goldberg Variations certainly would not get the attention they do, and may have ended up a curiosity music students discover on budget labels by performers seeking overblown and romantic interpetations or sterile "period correct" (in other words, uninformed) performances that leave listeners yawning. Instead, thanks to those three, the Goldberg is as well know even to the casual music listener as Beethoven's Pathetique or Mozart's Rondo a la Turka are.

Now, I certainly believe that Landowska's rendition is the most well informed, and even the most revolutionary in terms of true period correctness (she was the first to record it for the harpsichord and with correct baroque ornamentation), and she had a musicality that made the listener believe they were listening to an orchestra instead of just a single keyboardist. Tureck's interpretation is so dancelike and pleasant. It sounds so free and happy, I get the image that there are dancers on the keys of her piano. She was really the one that showed that the Goldberg Variations could be performed on a piano without reverting to the overly romanticized versions that had dominated up to that time.

It was Landowska and Tureck two that allowed for what is arguably the most famous interpretation of the Goldbergs: Glenn Gould's 1955 recording. Inspired by Landowska's passion for early music done right, and Tureck's justified piano performance that stood out head and shoulders above the others, Gould combined the best elements of the two and added his own rhythmic and dynamic perfection to create a masterpiece of a recording. His tempi were (in general) nearly twice as fast as most performers', indeed as his own 1981 recording, which, in places, I prefer (refer to variations 1,5,10,14,16, and 29), yet he is always in control and never sounds like he's straining to get to the next note. His staccato and light touch give it wonderful bell-like clarity, and it's the closest you'll get to a harpsichord recording on a piano. Yes, his 1981 recording is more mature, but it's a difference in interpretation than technical prowess, and I think the choice between the two comes down to mood, and even, as mentioned above, to the individual variations.

This recording was his first studio recording, presenting all the fire and passion of a twenty three year old showing the world that he's got something to prove. An odd choice for a first recording, most pianists would probably be forced into some half-hearted renditions of Chopin or Mozart, but Gould knew what he was doing. He must have known that the time was right for a Bach interpretation that paid homage to the greatness achieved in the past as well as one that strode confidently into the future, a future where (in a philosophy like Landowska's) old music was no longer quaint but revered and modern music didn't seek to "revolutionize" but instead sought to build upon. This was an increasingly prevalent attitude in the 1950's and 1960's thanks to people like Landowska, Harnoncourt, and, of course, Gould. We can see this philosophy in Durufle, De Falla (one of the first twentieth century composers to write for the harpsichord), and later Stravinsky. Gould's Goldbergs played no small part in Baroque's new birth. Do yourself a favor and get both of Gould's Goldbergs, Wanda Landowska's Goldbergs, and perhaps Koroliov's Goldbergs or Tatiana Nikolayeva's Goldbergs. You'll be quite glad you did.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you want the Fugues too? 25 Mar 2004
By Mr. Contrarian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I love both of Glenn Gould's versions of Goldberg Variations, the first in 1955 (this one) made him famous, while the last one in 1981 was his swan song. The 1981 version definitely has the fuller modern sound and Gould goes deeper, yet 1955 is historic, the sound is still excellent, and Gould's technique is just amazing! However, this particular packaging includes more than Goldberg Variations. Two fugues from Well Tempered Clavier are added to the end. Good music definitely, but personally, I just want the Goldberg Variations with no additives. If you don't object to the extras, then by all means get this CD. But if you are like me, look for the older "Great Performances" version by CBS/Columbia. It has only Goldberg Variations, with no fugues.
If you are new to Glenn Gould, just remember that even now, twenty years after his death, his work remains controversial. Everyone agrees that he was a masterful pianist, one of the best ever, but many people just don't like his eccentric approach to Bach. They find the fast parts too fast, and slow is too slow. In the 1981 version, many object to Gould's tuneless humming in the background. Eccentric? You bet. But nobody else could even get away with it. "That nut is a genius," as Szell was once heard to quip.
Anyone who finds Gould too eccentric, or perverse, should try Angela Hewitt or Rosalyn Tureck. I love their versions of Goldberg Variations too! Rosalyn Tureck spent her entire career of about 60 years studying Bach, and recorded Goldberg Variations at least three times. All are excellent. Angela Hewitt is just masterful, and plays with sheer devotion.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Marlon Brando of piano! 16 Feb 2006
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
These Goldberg formally inaugurated the auspicious debut of this well famed pianist. Until that time Bach was played with such impeccable austerity and intellectuality that literally became a shock to listen a very young man -23- challenging all the musical conventionalisms and old precepts which turned around the conceptual steadiness and serious formalism at the moment to play Bach at the piano.

Gould made an incisive breakthrough and showed that the formality and the Dionysian spirit may habit together, without those bitter presumptions or austere poses.

He impregnated the Goldberg variations with Mediterranean jubilee, effusiveness and radiant greenness. And this posture influenced a whole generation in all fields.

So those Goldberg carry on its own trademark. A historical reference by all accounts.

Indispensable collection piece.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You're Not Inclined to Invest in A State of Wonder... 30 May 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
As can be inferred from my title, I generally recommend purchasing A State of Wonder because it includes the best recordings of both Goldbergs plus the bonus interview CD for cheap (particularly if, like me, you're inclined to bargain hunt).
HOWEVER, if despite my sales pitch you insist on purchasing just the '55 recording, this is the one to get because it's not only remastered, but it also includes two fugues from Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier as a nice bonus. And a modicum of price comparing reveals that this also can be had VERY inexpensively.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This 4 July 2002
By the Chad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This cd is considered to be the best version of the Goldberg Variations. There never has been (or maybe never will be)a person who could better translate Bach than Glenn Gould. Glenn was a musical genius; he did things on the piano that even awed his peers. Nobody had better mechanics on the piano than this gentleman. Even outside of Bach he was incredible with the classic period of music. He did struggle a bit though with the romantic era; an era that involved more feeling and less structure than the Bach time period.
I find it hard to fault this performance; Gould the perfectionist was not satisfied with it and would later return to rerecord it. He felt and I agree with him that on some of the parts he played to fast (maybe from the pure enthusiasm of making a first record). One other thing about this album and Gould in general was that he hummed. You will hear him hum on this album, the whole album. But it doesn't really distract you from enjoying the music.
This album is great to play while you are relaxing on a sunny afternoon or having casual conversation and want nice background music. There are some Variations that are played hard, some fast; but the majority is mid tempo and relaxing. Buy this album! Then buy his latter Goldberg Variations and see for yourself why critics debate over which is better.
For the record the 2nd Goldberg Variations was released in 81. He died shortly afterwards in 82. It was his last recording.
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