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#361893 - 11/24/07 08:12 AM Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 22163
Loc: New York City
There is a terrific article about Gould in today's Times Arts section. Perhaps someone with a Times subscription would care to post it.

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#361894 - 11/24/07 09:35 AM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
xtraheat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/07
Posts: 625
Loc: WV
If know one posts it, when I get home tommorow I'll post it.
Currently working on
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#361895 - 11/24/07 10:03 AM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
Mistaya Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/06
Posts: 198
Loc: Alberta
You no longer need a subscription to read the NY Times online. I just managed to access the article.

#361896 - 11/24/07 10:09 AM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
Published: November 24, 2007

When Glenn Gould died unexpectedly in 1982, a victim of a stroke at the unseemly age of 50, his red-hot reputation had calmed to a simmer. Gould, a sufferer from extreme stage fright but a winner in the stock market, had quit performing in public 18 years earlier, using the proceeds of his financial ventures to soften the burdens of early retirement. Much of his time later was spent with television projects in his native Toronto, not all of which had to do with the piano.

In death, Gould came to life. Music business operatives appeared suddenly and in hordes, claiming hitherto unnoticed intimacy with the great man and eager to share their experiences in articles, interviews and books. It was amazing how many had known Gould so well, spent so many hours exchanging deep thoughts during marathon middle-of-the-night phone calls to area code 416.

Maybe they also belonged to the tens of thousands who were present at the infamous premiere of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” or the opening night of “My Fair Lady.” The less privileged had to fall back on the newly spruced-up Gould recordings rushed into rerelease. Record companies that had not been paying much attention introduced great piles of discs into the marketplace, from big-ticket items of Bach and Beethoven down to the sweepings that Gould had left behind in the studio.

Brisk business was done over his body, and it hasn’t stopped yet. A cleaned-up version of his career-making 1955 recording of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations appeared this year and is now prominently on sale. Just recently I received a published photo album filled with childhood memorabilia. What’s next: the Glenn Gould coloring book?

It might sell. In a business hungry for the larger than life, this extraordinary pianist, space-cadet musicologist, fluent philosopher, prized eccentric and subtle self-promoter remains catnip of considerable potency.

No one before or since has had the dexterity to make such transparent child’s play of Bach’s severest contrapuntal puzzles. That he played these pieces at such blinding speeds was not necessarily because he should have; I think he just wanted us to know that he could. To his great credit, Gould’s playing never complicated the simple. It is easy to decorate naked melody, extraordinarily difficult to keep its simplicity intact.

To anyone who thinks that Gould was for a moment unaware of his public image, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. In the “serious” music usually associated with him — Bach, Beethoven and (a reluctant pursuit) Mozart — Gould was happy to visit outrage on received wisdom. Yet he played Grieg and Brahms with docile acceptance of tradition. Assiduous in keeping his admirers off balance, he had probably decided that Gould playing Grieg was outrage enough.

Tales of his personal oddities were a thriving spinoff industry. There was Gould bundled up for blizzard conditions in tropical summer heat — indeed, he was apparently once arrested in Florida as a park bench vagrant. His inhibitions about touching or being touched in later years limited human contact, which was conducted largely by telephone. When he did attend functions, it was usually with his custom-made folding chair held under the arm like a baby blanket. The chair was adjustable and placed his body chest-high to the keyboard.

A West Coast friend tells of picking up Gould at an airport with his concert tailcoat rolled up in a carry-on bag like an army blanket. He cooed like Perry Como at recording sessions, and studio engineers usually left his vocalizing in.

The Gould legacy is of great value if we put it in the right place. He is the most interesting Bach player in memory, but when taken as a model of how Bach should sound, he is a catastrophe. People who blow up buildings get our attention, and sometimes their messages clean out our heads, but we don’t let them be architects.

Many years ago, interviewing Ivo Pogorelich, an eccentric bomb thrower of another sort, I asked about his favorite pianists. Himself, of course, and maybe Horowitz. What about Glenn Gould? Very interesting, but he has no education. Typical Pogorelich grandiosity, I thought at the time, but it is a response I often revisit. I prefer to think that Gould knew more about accumulated Baroque tradition than his playing let on. But with the courage and immense ego of all cultural Bolsheviks, he seemed to have decided that a 300-year-old trail of gathered wisdom would end with him. Outer space awaited.

With Angela Hewitt’s recent presentation of Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” at Zankel Hall still in the ears, I have been going back to the Gould recordings of these preludes and fugues on Sony Classical. At a number of moments, Bach is brilliantly served. Gould’s intelligent use of astonishing muscular control in the C sharp and E flat fugues of Book 1 gives separate personalities to two and three voices in simultaneous conversation, this on a modern piano constructed to make individual notes sound uniform rather than distinctive.

There are similar if occasional satisfactions. The rest is a series of assaults. They behave like satires, discreet lampoons of how everybody but Glenn Gould plays Bach. You hear a brilliant adolescent insulting his elders. The message of brashness is quietly put but no less potent.

Gould’s concepts can be horrifying — like ice water thrown in the face — but they are always fascinating. The famous C major Prelude of Book 1 makes a simple request for flowing arpeggios; Gould chops the phrases into half-legato, half-staccato. The C sharp Prelude and E minor Fugue from Book 1 are made ridiculously fast, and these are just two examples of show-off acceleration.

The E flat Prelude, again from Book 1, begs to flow over bar lines in long, melodic breaths; Gould turns to a machine-gun delivery of separated notes. Here, as in most of the preludes and fugues à la Gould, Bach’s meter shrinks to dainty little marches. Bar lines fence off phrases that want to sing but end up as maypole dances. This is not a matter of education; Gould played Brahms with as much far-reaching songfulness as any Romantic pianist. He just liked to be different.

Gould did not think much of the Mozart piano sonatas: another provocation, to be sure, but I agree that only a handful of Mozart’s piano sonatas enjoyed the composer’s full attention. Gould’s late Beethoven is filled with equally provoking weirdness. Oddly, he seems to have had little contact with Haydn, a fellow subversive. More oddly, he disliked Chopin, the godfather of all piano music. Had Chopin been less beloved, Gould might have liked him more.

Revolutionaries get our attention, and often for the better, but whom would you want running New York City, Mayor Bloomberg or Che Guevara? Clanking Pleyel harpsichord and all, Wanda Landowska is still my favorite Bach player. Ms. Hewitt is not bad either.

But keep the Gould recordings close by; they keep us stirred up. No matter how you do it, he said, I’ll do it differently. Gould blessed us all, even as he made us mad. He was the antagonized and antagonizing commentator, a shadow government for Bach style, his brilliant little bombshells handwritten in the margins of legitimate texts.

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#361897 - 11/24/07 12:18 PM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1567
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Thanks for posting that article.
Do or do not. There is no try.

#361898 - 11/24/07 12:43 PM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
very interesting article, whether agree or not! thanks!

#361899 - 11/25/07 01:37 PM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
I'm surprised this piece in the NYTs hasn't drawn more reaction from the Piano Forum. Usually the mere mention of Gould brings forth lavish praise. And here we have Bernard Holland taking potshots at the legacy of a long dead God for no apparent reason.

Was there some anniversary, or an important event I missed? Why this piece in the NYTs now?

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10

#361900 - 11/25/07 01:58 PM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
BB Player Offline

Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2931
Loc: Not in Texas
Originally posted by tomasino:

Was there some anniversary, or an important event I missed? Why this piece in the NYTs now?

Tomasino [/b]
Possibly because of the popularity of the recently released Zenph studios recording of the Goldberg variations.

#361901 - 11/25/07 03:03 PM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
gmf001 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/06
Posts: 247
Loc: Uxbridge, ON, Canada
... and also due the Hewitt world tour of the complete WTC which is referenced in the article. ..and it is the 25th anniversary of his death (and 75th of his birth), though the actual days are past (Oct and Sept)

#361902 - 11/25/07 04:00 PM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1567
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
The article was a bit harsh and sarcastic, but I guess that's the author's opinion. I happen to admire Gould and have come to understand his idiosyncratic behavior. I suppose we all mock what we don't understand. I always thought of him as a bit of a nut, but the more I learn about him the more I see how torchured he really was. Cornilia Foss's latest recall of their relationship made me realize how ill Gould really was.


I think she has more insight than the NY times author.
Do or do not. There is no try.

#361903 - 11/26/07 07:18 AM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
blackstar Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/07
Posts: 20
Loc: OH
it's amazing to me that bernie holland is given carte blanche to spill such superfluous ink. the whole concept of glenn gould-exploitation is such a non-starter of a topic. it seems the article is just another excuse for him to drop little pogo quotes and wring his sweaty palms semi-sagely at the gooey memory of the Great Angela's latest.
god, no wonder i never bother with Paper of Record anymore.

#361904 - 11/26/07 08:54 AM Re: Glenn Gould article in today's NY Times
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Quoting gmf001: "... and also due the Hewitt world tour of the complete WTC which is referenced in the article. ..and it is the 25th anniversary of his death (and 75th of his birth)."

Maybe it's the Hewitt tour, although it doesn't seem that big a deal. Maybe that makes sense in combination with the 25th anniversary of Gould's death, but in that event, I'd expect an opinion piece that praises Gould rather than cuts him up.

It still seems a very odd opinion piece to me.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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