I felt like it was Christmas whilst I was opening the package from Amazon. Then, playing the first cd I expected to see snow out there...
This box set is simply superb! The box itself has a beautiful, elegant design and it is the strongest I've ever seen. It is likely that there is no other box of classical music cds built like this one.
The box is bigger than it looks on the picture and its measures are: 17cm height x 22cm width x 15cm depth.
The cds come in cardboard cases that reproduce the original long play cover, including the text in the back. The cds themselves are designed to look like a LP .
It is easy to browse through the discs and select one of them.
If you want to check the track list before ordering this box set you can find the complete list of what is in each cd at klassik.sonymusic.de
The sound I hear ( playing now "Goldberg Variations" ) almost makes me think that there is a piano in the house...I expect the sound of other cds to be as good or even better because Glenn Gould was very demanding about the technical quality of his recordings and learned so much about technicalities of recording that he could be also considered a good sound engineer. Incidentally, he even built a recording studio in his home.
There are 34 cds with music only, one cd with a conversation with Glenn Gould about concert dropout, one cd where Glenn Gould talks about Bach but it is in German (???), one cd with studio outtakes of the Columbia recording session in 1955, one cd where Glenn Gould discusses his performances of the "Goldberg Variations" with Tim Page and 6 dvds.
The first three dvds are broadcasts of Canadian Television from 1957 to 1970. The quality of the image, of course, is 60's TV but there is a big advantage there, in my opinion:
The broadcasts were made before the plague of short span of attention that is rule on modern BBC classical music programmes, for example, and you will be able to actually see images of the performances that will last longer than 15 seconds. In another words, you will be able to actually see the performances as if, somehow, you were in the concert hall instead of watching a concert broadcast by BBC that looks like a video game, "Bach and the Space Invaders" or something like that.
The last three dvds are documentaries directed by Bruno Monsaingeon, a French filmmaker who also directed documentaries about Sviatoslav Richter and Menuhim. These documentaries consist mainly of Glenn Gould playing, what I think tells more about Glenn Gould than seeing hundreds of interviews and archive images about him, although you do get to see interviews. The documentaries are:
The Question of instrument
1st episode of the series "Glenn Gould plays Bach". 58' Date: 1979
An Art of the Fugue
2nd episode of the series "Glenn Gould plays Bach". 58' Date: 1980
The Goldberg Variations
3rd episode of the series "Glenn Gould plays Bach". 58' Date: 1981
The 190 pages hard cover book is by far the best one I've seen in a box set . It has an introductory essay in English, German and French followed by an extraordinary track listing in English only.
Extraordinary because it reproduces all original texts from the LPs back covers. So, you will have an essay about most cds.
I couldn't possibly be happier with a box set of cds. Thanks, Sony, for such a superb work!
While Glenn Gould was a pianist who performed the works of many composers, his name is inextricably linked to that of Johann Sebastian Bach. More than any other composer, Bach was Gould's speciality. From his first recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations in 1955 to his final recording, again of the Goldberg Variations in 1981, Gould recorded nearly all of Bach's keyboard music.
This set groups all of Gould's Bach recordings; not only those released on LP and CD, but also a number of previously unreleased recordings: outtakes from the 1955 Goldbergs recording session; a stereo mix of the 1955 Goldbergs; some preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier, from 1952 and 1954; and two live recordings, from 1957 and 1959, of the Goldbergs (Salzburg Festival, August, 1959) and the Sinfonias (Moscow, May, 1957). There are two discs of interviews with Gould - one with Tim Page, and another with John McClure - and a disc of Gould speaking about Bach in German. There are a total of 38 CDs.
This set also includes DVDs; 6 of them. Three of these are directed by Bruno Monsaigneon, featuring the Goldbergs on one, and two others with a variety of works. And three others are from the CBC, from 1957 to 1970, featuring Gould (and others) playing a variety of Bach's works. Many Gould fans are familiar with the Monsaigneon films, as they have been widely circulated - especially the Goldberg Variations video, which was my first introduction to seeing Glenn Gould perform. The CBC videos are less common, though they have been released in a 10-DVD set Glenn Gould on Television. What we have in the Bach set is, naturally, the Bach performances taken from that set. If you're a die-hard Gould fan, you'll want to get the full DVD set as well.
Together with all these discs is a 192-page hardcover book, with some introductory essays, and with notes for each disc. Unfortunately, the notes are very succinct, and while the disc covers reproduce original LPs, the notes on them are too small to read without a microscope. (Is it that hard to include a CD or DVD with PDFs of these things?)
If you're a fan of Glenn Gould, you may already have the Complete Original Jacket Collection, on 80 CDs, which contains most of what's in this set, but you won't have the outtakes, live recordings and DVDs. This set, at a not-quite-bargain price, is worth getting for these extras alone, if you appreciate Gould. Especially since Bach is what Gould did best.
Nice packaging, a fair price, and a bunch of previously unreleased material makes this a good purchase for any fan of Glenn Gould. If you're not familiar with his admittedly idiosyncratic recordings of Bach's keyboard works, this would be a good chance to discover one of the most original of performers. You may love Gould or hate him, but you can't deny that, when he played Bach, he was channelling something transcendent.
on 26 September 2012
This is a beautiful looking edition. The box isn't just cardboard but covered completely in beautiful cloth. The hardcover book even has stitched (sewn?) binding.
The only thing I'm missing: there's no information about the digital transfer. Anyone who knows the superb Rudy Van Gelder Remaster edition of Jazz records of the 50s - don't expect this brilliant sound here. I've just listened to the 1955-Goldberg-recording and the sound is far from "good" in a remaster sense. There a strong disturbances/hissings (before there was noise reduction).
I made some tests.
Partita recording of 1957 compared to the Glenn Gould Edition (Sony Classical) 1993. This seems to be the exact same mastering. In the former edition it says "mastered using 20-bit technology" SBM / ADD
I also compared this recording to a disc of the Rudy Van Gelder Remaster: Red Garland Trio: Groovy. The Partitas and Groovy are both US-recordings of summer 1957. The Van-Gelder-remastering using "transfers made from the analog master tapes to digital at 24-bit resolution" (2008). The sound of the RVG-Groovy-disc is just amazing, absolutely superb. You can't say this of the Sony-disc, here the sound is rather flat, not very brilliant and with a rather strong noise/hissing.
So I assume: no effort has been made to improve the sound of the Glenn-Gould-recordings and listening to the early recordings - I guess there could have been an improvement...
on 8 June 2015
Listening to the 38th cd as I write, it is absolutely fascinating to hear Glenn critiquing the quality of the piano he's playing during the outtakes of the 1955 Goldberg Variations, the album that begins this most wonderful set. There is one thing however that I wish to mention, the way the cd sleeves are for the double albums and the 1981 Goldberg are designed in such a way that removing the disc increases the chances of scratching the discs. Some people mention disapproval of some Beethoven piano concertos in this set, I believe that it is simply that it's because that is how the original albums were, many classical albums would combine works from different composers.
on 12 April 2016
Oh dear Oh dear. I received this magnificent box of all Bach's music played by Glenn Gould and very comprehensive it is too: nobody needs me to sing it's praises.
Unfortunately, having checked it out today (I have not played anything yet), I believe there is an item missing - and I would love someone to comment that I have got it wrong. He gave a concert in Leningrad in 1957 which consisted of Bach's first concerto and Beethoven's second. The accompanying orchestra was the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Conservatory conducted by Ladislav Slovak.
The date was May 18th, 1957 and the Sony disc number is SMK 52686. Please someone tell me that I have overlooked the Bach (the Beethoven is not necessary because it is not one of 'original sleeve' issues) and that it really is there - otherwise, shame on you Sony for such a slip up on such a lovingly prepared issue.
on 29 December 2015
Bought as a birthday present from my wife. She loves it. Beautiful presentation box with excellent detailed accompanying booklet makes this a special gift. Personally I'm not sure about some of the negative comments regarding the sound - we have a Bang & Olefson system and the CDs sound superb with no hint of background noise. Gould himself is an idiosyncratic player and you can, famously, hear him humming along as he plays on some recordings but you can argue this part of the charm. Gould's playing on the included Beethoven concertos is outstanding and unlike many pianists he is brave enough to add his own cadenzas rather than those written by Beethoven or Joachim which most pianists opt for. If you're a Gould fan and can't stump up for the mega collection of everything Gould recorded then this is a very acceptable and cheaper alternative.
on 18 July 2014
Bach keyboard ,I would touch it with a barge pole .I bought the 12 CD box set by Andras Schiff for donkey years and to be truthful it was before the donkey.Many times I tried to listen to the Goldberg Variations and The well tempered claviers but got bored and the box set was and still gathering dust in my collection.Glen Gould back,no way after the negative reviewers from the professional in well known Magazine and reviewers that he hum and you can actually hears the cracking noise of the antique granny chair and I do not know whether he pass gas at both ends during recording,I decided to buy his Bach complete recordings and I still wonder why this box include Beethoven piano concerto whe it is Bach complete recording.Since I got this box set I have been playing the CD for over a week and never get bored.There is slight noise of humming via headphone but nothing to wire home about.I never got bored and tried to hang myself after listening to the two version of The Goldberg variation.This is a box set to treasure and to Enjoy Bach keyboard music,I mean enjoy with a capital e. Buy this box set as it is cheapest price on Amazon and once it is gone it is gone.Forget about those expert reviewers and if it was for them I would appreciate and enjoy the master tunesmith and highly recommended without any reservation. And this is Bach for a lifetime and for me for me is few years as I am already over the hill.