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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

on 3 February 2015
A wonderful spiritual experience seeing the performer communicating with the soul of the composer.
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on 16 November 2009
There is not much to say. A historic recording, a very personal way to live music (yes, Gould does not only plays the music, he lives it), a pleasure to watch and listen.
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on 27 October 2008
This DVD is a revelation! Technical difficulty and playfulness of the music is appreciated fully only by watching pianist's hands gliding effortlessly over the keyboard like two independent creatures, often crossing up and down.
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on 19 September 2009
I was first introduced to Bach via a recording of the English Suites by Murray Perahia. I then purchased the Goldberg Variations by the same pianist.

Those CDs lived in my CD player for about a year before first hearing Gould's version of the Goldberg; even with the considerable skill of Perahia, I couldn't believe what I heard with Gould. Such musicianship, the attention to detail, the interpretations; the difference between everything I had heard previously and Gould was the difference between night and day.

When I first heard Glenn Gould play, it was the first time I heard Bach. When I first heard Glenn Gould play Bach, it was the first time I heard music.

When listening to other musicians play Bach, it was always at the back of my mind that it required something of a struggle; hard work. Not so with Gould. His sound is crisp and light, yet firm and vigorous. Whilst other musicians seem to be restricted by the strict rhythmic style of the baroque composer; wanting to bring out the 'romantic' that doesn't exist, Gould seems to thrive on the austerity. Exaggerating it, thus animating this austerity and bringing a range of colours and vitality not heard with other interpreters.

Gould is a virtuoso interpreter, not merely physically accomplished; one gets the overwhelming sensation of great attention and thought having gone into perfecting every phrase, every counterpoint, every composition.

Glenn Gould did with Bach what other pianists did with Chopin. As this music was originally written for harpsichord, there are no dynamics written. Gould's genius is, partly, in his ability to listen to the music and discern which hand, phrase, which note to highlight.

Whilst personally considering Gould to be one of the most important, and underrated interpreters of J.S.Bach (underrated by serious musicians, I have had many discussions with musicians about this), there is one area in which he does falter; romantic pieces, or with J.S.Bach, pieces which can now be considered romantic sounding, long before that era began. But with the Goldberg Variations, these are minor gripes with Gould's interpretative style and do not stand out, unlike some other compositions I could mention. Whilst I may prefer Perahia's interpretations on one movement or another, there is a distinct lack of the sound Gould produces which makes listening to any other pianist with Bach very frustrating.

Once having listened to the Goldberg Variations CD and moved onto other things, did I come across this video. At first I though this a different recording to the CD; it sounded so much better, more energetic and profound. It does seem, however, that this is the very same recording as the CD release, but I would urge any fan of Bach or Gould to give this version a listen, I'm sure you would be hard-pressed to find any similarity between the two formats.

As another reviewer has noted, I have experienced a similar reaction by anyone who has seen this performance. There is something immensely cerebral about it, yet profoundly visceral too.
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on 11 June 2010
I still remember how, in 1984, when there were only few CD-titles published yet, I listened for the first time to the Goldberg Variations, in Glenn Gould's 1981 recording. When after the opening Aria, Glenn Gould vigorously set in the first variation, I was struck as by lightning. This was powerful. I immediately bought this CD and it has remained my favorite CD, through all these 26 years. What I did not know, was that the recording session for this CD had been videotaped. When I found out recently, I was thrilled. The intensity of the music is even more captivating when you see Gould's face, his body, his hands. When I let myself be moved by the music and by Goulds expression it is as if I feel myself become one with the flow of music, compelled to move with him in the same flowing movement. For those who love Glenn Gould's music, this is a must have. And if you do not have the CD yet, buy it as well, because the sound quality of the CD is better than of this video recording. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
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on 2 June 2003
This is it. This is the pinncale of human achievment. This is what you should watch if you want to unlock the secrets and mysteries of the universe. The first time I saw this DVD I had a religious experience; my mind reeled and I was launched into a state of euphoria.
This is truly one of the most amazing pieces known to man, composed by probably the greatest of all western musicans, played by one of the most brilliant and eccentric performers who has ever lived.
I have played this DVD to countless people, most who are not musicans and don't have the slighest knowledge or interest in classical music and all of them could not believe what they were witnessing. People exaggerate all the time, using hyperbolic language to describe the most inane of things. Adjectives like "mesmerising", "spellbinding" and "captivating" are all too often misused. But this DVD is all of those things. We are lucky to bear witness to such utter perfection and clarity. Just buy this DVD and marvel.
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Here is the Master Pianist at work - complete with all the foibles that we expect to see and hear. The tatty chair, the unbuttoned shirtsleeves and the unconventional sitting position - but most of all the 'delicate' singing that accompanies each variation. The mastery of counterpoint and timing are a treasure, to say nothing of the conducting lessons also evident.
The overall effect is a stunning and fascinating performance and a second to none interpretation of the 'Goldberg'
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on 6 February 2001
This is incredible playing from Genn Gould. Who else has ever played this work with such astonishing and audacious virtuosity and such deep understanding? Gould had lived with this piece since he was in his 20s and it shows. Each variation is taken on it's own terms, not on the terms of any "School" of Bach playing or of pianism and so we receieve what we are convinced is the soul and everything else of Bach's materpiece. Chris Harman
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