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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Glenn Gould Plays Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Books I & Ii, Bwv 846-893
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£7.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 28 April 2017
When I first really (and finally after much youthful resistance: Bach's too formal, too rigid, isn't he? - no, wrong) appreciated Bach's piano work, it was only through Gould's playing. These various recordings grouped by Sony under the "Glenn Gould Collection" are wonderful. And great value: 3 or 4 CDs in one box. Perfect also to work to - the musical intricacy, variety and virtuosity stimulate the brain. Bach and Excel really do go together.
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on 15 October 2017
This is much better than my previous purchase, which was the supposed improved version, which is actually pretty awful. This is Glen Gould and Bach in all their glory. Be tempted!!
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on 13 June 2017
A lot of people love his interpretation, but for me, it's all just way too fast. He plays through both books in 3 hours and 30 minutes. Compare this with the latest Barenboim's, which clocks in at 4 hours and 51 minutes. My favourite recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, is by Andras Schiff. He moulds a beautiful listening experience, unrushed but not laboured, at 4 hours and 3 minutes.

I would avoid this one, and go for either of the Schiff recordings.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 November 2012
I picked up a copy of these in my local charity shop for an outrageous 50p. It felt like such a steal that I ended up giving the lady an extra fiver towards her 'Stop Human Trafficking' charity. Genuine relaxation doesn't come easily to me but these, over the course of two evenings, took me very, very close. I already owned three version of these famous works; two from Naxos for piano and harpsichord respectively, and another harpsichord set that was included with my Brilliant Classics Bach boxset. But Gould quite simply knocks all those into the compost. It is very rarely that pieces of such duration can hold my attention so absolutely riveted from beginning to end. Gould doesn't just play the works, but enters into a personal dialogue with you the listener, walking ahead, pointing out each tiny detail worthy of note, slowing down the moment he sees you are tiring, speeding up when he sees your attention wavering. What he does seems more like calairvoyance than piano playing. These are such absolute treasures that I am even willing to put up with the donkey heard braying in the background. (Of course those familiar with Gould will know I am making a humorous reference to his idiosyncratic habit of humming along quite tunelessly when the inspiration gets the better of him. This may sound off-putting to the newcomer, but all who know him will assure you that this occurs at the threshold of liminality and, such as Gould's genius, does nothing to inerfere with the absolute revelatory pleasure of his performances).
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on 6 October 2013
Great music and great performances, like a great debate, should give food for thought as well as aural pleasure, especially if the music in question is of the more cerebral kind. Perhaps in this context "cerebral" might mean pre-Romantic (and post-Romantic), and certainly Bach's preludes and fugues would belong in this category. I'm not remotely any kind of expert, and am to some extent thinking aloud here.

Glenn Gould often seems to be the ultimate cerebral pianist, but if he were just that he would probably not have been famous for long. I have read reviews that elevate him to the level of the greatest genius of a keyboard player ever, and at the other end of the scale pieces in which he is castigated extremely, with terms like "rigid", "harsh", "unyielding", "metronomic" and "unsubtle" being employed to describe his playing.

This can be accounted for by the huge range of different tastes and sensibilities that exist among music-lovers (and, thankfully, among humans generally), but also by the unverifiable fact that what each of us hears when we listen to the same performance or recording is probably not the same in terms of each individual's perception of the sounds.

If you buy these CDs, you will undoubtedly hear much fantastic playing, and a very thought-provoking and perceptive traversal of these mostly inspired 96 pieces. There are many occasions when Glenn Gould's performance is genuinely revelatory, - in particular I am thinking of the way in which he can build and charge a melody with increasing eloquence of line without even beginning to "fatten" or overburden it with sentiment in a romantic way, with a sort of chaste lyrical power; or his incredibly deft and agile rhythmic acuity; or much magical soft playing with amazing gradations of tone; or the not infrequently "raindrop dangling off a leaf" perfection of his ornamentation.

You may also hear, depending on your ears and your tastes, playing which is sometimes clangorous, unyielding and relentless, moments where the pianist seems to interrupt the way the music wants to go (Gould was open and unapologetic about taking an experimental approach to the interpretation of Bach) and sometimes entire pieces in which rather than play the piece as it would seem to want to go, Gould provides a kind of dissection-as-you-go-along of the piece, at a slower than usual tempo.

Even these episodes are, for this listener, thought-provoking and - while not without the power at some level to exasperate - usually genuinely revealing.

The point is this, I feel: Glenn Gould's version should not be the one you buy if you are aiming to own just one version of Das wohltemperierte Klavier. However, if you love this music enough to want to own two or more versions, then I would say that Gould's recording is indispensable. It needs to exist alongside and in comparison with the great performances of Tureck, Gieseking, Richter, Fischer, Schiff and others. Gould had great treasure to give to those who love Bach, but his unique way is far from being the only way.
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on 22 October 2013
Gould keyboard touching is clearly audible but some tunes of this collection are played a bit slow or too marked as the first one, very staccato and the second, slowish...

I recommend the box as a document os this fantastic and exquisit artist and invite you to enjoy another excelent reading with Thomas Gunther, a hidden gem on SACD with a very accessible price:


This is my oppinion and recommendation.

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on 27 September 2013
If you can put up with Gould's ad-hoc humming (and it can get on your nerves sometimes), then you are in for a treat. The only weakness in the 4 CD's is the very first Prelude in C (Book 1) which is played in a very idiosyncratic, lumpy sort of way. But apart from that, there is some great, even sublime playing to be found in this collection. Astonishingly priced too. Recommended.
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on 16 June 2013
No one could fault Glenn Gould's insight into this wonderful music. His playing is flawless and extremely crisp - some might even say too crisp, though that is a matter of personal taste. The biggest negative on this otherwise superb recording is the sound of Glenn singing along under his breath as he plays. I wish I could ignore it. But I can't.
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on 26 April 2013
I can't stop playing it over and over -- it entrains my mind as I write my poetry. I don't hear him breathing at all.
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on 9 August 2014
Not a bad price for this great 4CD set. As I mentioned about Gould's performances of the English and French suites, again here he played with clear counterpoint and every section is well shaped. I've even heard pianists play the 48 in a classical or romantic style. In the fugues, the fugal polyphony can easily be heard and the articulation is mostly tenuto. His touch on the piano is also amazing.
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