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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CINQ ETOILES
Gould's style in Bach makes no compromises. His fingering is mainly detached and non-legato, there is no use of the sustaining pedal, a tempo once set is adhered to rigidly without rubato, the volume of tone is rarely varied within any given piece, and he occasionally adopts speeds that are unusually fast or unusually slow. I find it pointless to compare him with other...
Published on 27 Sep 2006 by DAVID BRYSON

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the English Suites by Gould
Having loved the English Suites by Gould (they are magically played), I thought Gould might give me some fresh insights into the French suites. Alas, no sparkle here and no fresh insights.
Published on 7 Feb 2008 by Aquinas


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CINQ ETOILES, 27 Sep 2006
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DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bach: French Suites/Overture in the French Style (Audio CD)
Gould's style in Bach makes no compromises. His fingering is mainly detached and non-legato, there is no use of the sustaining pedal, a tempo once set is adhered to rigidly without rubato, the volume of tone is rarely varied within any given piece, and he occasionally adopts speeds that are unusually fast or unusually slow. I find it pointless to compare him with other interpreters in Bach - we should know what to expect by now and whether we like Bach done like this or not. Myself, I find Gould's Bach compulsive. Bach is the most `absolute' musician of all the great masters, and his infinite eloquence can make itself heard without any overtly `expressive' idiom, although he can deploy that to some effect too when he sees fit. Gould displays to us the composer's `abstract' profile more or less exclusively, and just as the composer's unique greatness shines out unaccountably in this view, so does the greatness of this interpreter. What Gould has in spades is individuality. It's possible to point out the obvious such as his unique clarity and evenness of fingerwork, just as it's possible to offer platitudinous comment on the distinction of the composer's counterpoint. All that is true but superficial. The real greatness of both is much harder to define, but for me it makes a spellbinding combination.

The last two French suites were recorded in early 1971, before Gould's piano suffered damage in transit. The other four date from 1972 and 1973 after the mishap, and the liner note has some interesting comments on the matter from Gould himself. It seems that the instrument's action became heavier consequent on the repairs, and Gould chose to avoid fast tempi rather than let the heavier touch force him into a more legato delivery. The difference is very perceptible to the listener. The tone in suites 1-4 is less rich than in 5 and 6, and the earlier suites feature no rocketing speeds such as Gould takes in the courante of #6. One matter that intrigues me is which parts of the French Overture were done before the accident and which after - honesty compels me to say that so far I haven't been able to tell.

The recording is perfectly adequate if perhaps a bit over-bright - I found I got a more agreeable tone by using a slightly lower volume-setting than I normally listen to. The liner-note is interesting if slightly silly in some ways - we are given a solemn analysis of Gould's supposed interest in various composers as evinced by what he chose to record, and the text is reinforced with a parade of bar-charts. I take Gould's Bach-style as read and I don't wish to act as an advocate for it. For me it's just a matter of whether he performs well or badly within the given parameters of his approach, and I have never yet heard a Bach rendering from him that would come in the latter category. The total playing-time only just tops what could have been accommodated on a single disc, but as this enables us to hear the French Overture as well as the suites I have no problem with it. I have no problem with anything here at all.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the English Suites by Gould, 7 Feb 2008
By 
Aquinas "summa" (celestial heights, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bach: French Suites/Overture in the French Style (Audio CD)
Having loved the English Suites by Gould (they are magically played), I thought Gould might give me some fresh insights into the French suites. Alas, no sparkle here and no fresh insights.
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Bach: French Suites/Overture in the French Style
Bach: French Suites/Overture in the French Style by Johann Sebastian Bach (Audio CD - 1994)
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