Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOULDBERG, 21 Aug 2003
This review is from: Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - The Historic 1955 Debut Recording (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. It sounds very good indeed to me, but I am a music-lover not a high-fi buff and it may be that more expensive issues have done the thing even better. This one leaves very little to be desired as far as I am concerned and is excellent value as well. The disc is not exactly full to overflowing, but the inclusion of two fugues brings the total amount of music to a little over three-quarters of an hour.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Jun 2011 18:36:32 BDT
A. Severn says:
THis recording of the Goldbergs is wrongly attributed to Glenn Gould instead of Charles Rosen and as a consequence the reviews refer not to this Rosen recording but to the first (1955) Glenn Gould recording. It would be interesting to see reviews of the correct (Rosen) recording.

In a combined review in The Gramophone (Feb 2004) that magazine said: "Charles Rosen in Bach's Goldberg Variations, for example, from days (1967) before we knew him so well as a writer. While interested in what other players do, as a pianist he has always been his own man. I guess he may have been touched by Glenn Gould's example in one or two of the virtuoso variations towards the end of the set; they are none the worse for that. Rosen is master not only of the athletic challenge but of the glorious overview. And you get the impression of a continuous performance. Expressively a shade plain? Well, he is not a player to offer a personalised gloss on Bach or anything else. There is variety here to be enjoyed of colour and touch (in the repeats, for example), but above all an unerring musical definition."

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jun 2011 01:25:44 BDT
The date of this issue was 1995, I see, so I wonder how an error of such magnitude could have been allowed to go on so long, if it really is as you say. My collection also now includes a set with both Gould performances on it, so tomorrow I shall compare this and the (presumably authentic) 1955 Gould version on that. For the moment what strains my credulity is that Gould's touch is usually near-unmistakable, and I have always thought Rosen very dull. Something strange about all this.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Mar 2013 21:50:10 GMT
A. Dawson says:
Fascinating stuff! What was the outcome?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2013 15:44:44 GMT
When I checked back on why I had not answered this question at the time I soon remembered -- on acquiring the Gould performances on separate discs I gave away the twofer issue to relieve the constant pressure on my cd-racking capacity. What I have just done is the next best thing and replayed this 'Gould 1955' disc, and let me tell you there is no doubt in my mind. This is never the work of a plodder like Rosen. That's from the p o v of quality. The other p o v is that there is no mistaking Gould's personal style at its best. You could tell some folk anything.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Mar 2013 16:28:09 GMT
A. Dawson says:
Thanks for the info David. Regarding what you say about "tell some folk anything", I have a cd of Charlie Parker recordings and they certainly are Parker. However the cover and inside photograph of "Parker", is in fact of Johnny Hodges. This is hilarious because of all the great alto players that Parker influenced, Hodges wasn't one of them; he carried on as if nothing had happened! Not the same as your point I know, but hope you enjoy the irony. Keep listening! AD

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Mar 2013 18:08:06 GMT
Having refreshed my memory I'm completely clear in my conscience that what I'm recommending is the wonderful, the unique, Gould.
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