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Goldberg Variations BWV 988

Played by Glenn Gould

K-1

J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations
J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988; Piano Concerto, BWV 1052; Partita No. 5, BWV 829

Goldberg Variations BWV 988 [42:30 / 42:18]

Glenn Gould (Piano)

CBC
Urania

Jun 1954

CD / TT: 42:30
CD / TT: 78:11

1st recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988 by G. Gould.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

K-2

J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

1. Goldberg Variations BWV 988 [38:40]
2. From Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2 - Fugue BWV 883 [3:14], Fugue BWV 878 [4:17]

Glenn Gould (Piano)

Sony / World Classic

Jun 1955 [1]; Jul-Aug 1957 [2]

CD / TT: 46:11

2nd recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988 by G. Gould. Recorded at 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY, USA.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com | Amazon.com | Amazon.com

K-3

Glenn Gould live in Salzburg & Moscow - Bach: Goldberg Variations · Three-Part Inventions Nos. 2-15
Clenn Gould in Salzburg

 

1. Goldberg Variations BWV 988 [37:07]
2. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) (15), BWV 788-801 [23:59]

Glenn Gould (Piano)

Sony
Price-less

May 1957 [2]; Aug 1959 [1]

CD / TT: 61:06
CD / TT:

3rd recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988 by G. Gould. Recorded live at Salzburg Festival, Mozarteum, Austria [1].
1st recording of Three-Part Inventions BWV 788-801 by G. Gould. Recorded live in Moscow, Russia [2].
The Price-less issue does not include the I&S.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

K-13

Bach: The Goldberg Variations

Goldberg Variations BWV 988

Glenn Gould (Piano)

Sony

Apr-May 1981

CD / TT: 51:14

4th recording of Goldberg Variations BWV 988 by G. Gould. Recorded at 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY, USA.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com | Amazon.com | Amazon.com

Hearing Gould

Donald Satz wrote (May 30, 2001):
Satoshi Akima wrote:
Marshall Abrams wrote after taking up Don's suggestion to give Gould another go:
<< Soon after that I did listen to Gould's Inventions CD, at least the first few tracks until I got annoyed again. I thought:
Why is the rhythm so odd at certain moments? Why are notes emphasized in odd and nonsensical ways? Why is that clearly supporting left-hand line so much louder than the right hand? Gould sounds like he just rolled out of bed, and is letting his fingers idly play while he sips his coffee and chats about yesterday's occurrences. like me. >>
< I have always found the tendency for professional musicians to be infuriated by Gould to be fascinating. I have heard dismissive comments coming from the likes of
Angela Hewitt and Alfred Brendel for example. >

<< But I've been listening to what I think of as more mainstream Inventions/Sinfonias recordings in the last couple of weeks (Koroliov on piano, Troeger on clavichord). These pieces seemed fairly familiar to me before, but I don't think they were familiar enough. It seems that Gould's performance is working for me now because in the background I have a vague awareness of how the piece "should" sound, and I hear what Gould's doing in relation to that. >>
< Gould is always questioning conventional wisdom when it comes to how to play Bach. Perhaps it is precisely those whose conventions he flies most in the face of that he upsets the most. As far as pianists are concerned certain orthodoxies have crept into Bach interpretation. These are orthodoxies not always present even in the playing of the pre-war generation of pianists but currently dictate all expectations as to how Bach ought to sound. These same orthodoxies have to some degree been criticized by the musicologically informed generation of musicians, yet closer analysis of the playing of the likes of the likes of Trevor Pinnock nonetheless reveals they are still alive amongst even harpsichordists. However I wonder how critics would react if one were to put an artist into the recording studio totally naive of the piano vs. harpsichord debate as well as of post-war pianistic orthodoxies. Such a musician might be J.S. Bach himself. Suppose we were to offer him a choice of piano, organ or harpsichord to play his own music. Suppose we then released this music under the title "Joe Brook plays Bach". Quite naive of contemporary musicological orthodoxies, as well as of post-war pianistic orthodoxies, his playing - on whatever instrument he might quite naively picks - would be doubtless panned by many critics as being totally unorthodox and flying in the face of current practice.
I like Gould, not because I always agree with him so much as because he dares to question orthodoxies. Some critics have said he does so merely as an end to itself. I am not sure myself. I have always felt that he illuminates aspects of Bach's musical language that even the musicologically oriented lot fail to bring out for fear of wandering too far from the comfort zone of the usual orthodoxies. I think an age whose performance practice orthodoxies have moved on from ours will see this more clearly. The professional pianists of our times are sometimes in the worst possible position to see this. >
Performances not in the mainstream are always going to have detractors and be controversial. What I usually find interesting is how everyone raves about excellent mainstream interpretations as if they set a new and higher level of performance quality. As fine as an excellent mainstream performance might be, it definitely does not shed new light on a work or raise the bar of excellence for others to reach.

In Gramophone, the Perahia Goldbergs is listed as the best recording on the market. Why? It's mainstream, very well performed, and touts a highly well-known performing artist. But does the interpretation provide anything illuminating or new? No. When I listen to Perahia's Goldberg Variations, I enjoy the experience. When listening to Gould's 1981 version, I hear a creative artist who has analyzed each variation and made decisions as to how best to convey the meaning of the music. It's not my intent to complain about Perahia, just to nthat the best of mainstream gets exaggerated responses out of proportion to the inspiration provided from the performance. A major question to ask oneself after listening to a recording is - "Is there anything new in this one?".

Peter Bright wrote (May 30, 2001):
[To Donald Satz] I must stick my neck out to say that I agree with Gramophone about Perahia's Goldbergs. Of those I own on piano, I would place them as follows:

1 Perahia
2 Gould '81
3 Tureck '95(?) - DG
4 Gould '55
5 Hewitt
6 Schiff

There are a number of other recordings I would like to get my hands on soon (particularly Tureck's earlier recordings), but I do feel that Perahia reaches the heart of the music (mainstream or not). By some considerable margin, I feel more satisfied by the end of the Perahia version than the others - although I think all of them are good performances. I have practically all of Gould's Bach recordings and many of them (incl the Goldberg '81) are stunning. But Perahia's recording is, for me, even more exceptional in its subtle changes of mood and colour.

Anne Smith wrote (May 30, 2001):
Satoshi Akima wrote:
< Gould is always questioning conventional wisdom when it comes to how to play Bach. >
Yes. I once read that Glenn Gould said that if a performer could not record a work differently than it had been done before, it was not worth recording.

< I like Gould, not because I always agree with him so much as because he dares to question orthodoxies. Some critics have said he does so merely as an end to itself. I am not sure myself. I have always felt that he illuminates aspects of Bach's musical language that even the musicologically oriented lot fail to bring out for fear of wandering too far from the comfort zone of the usual orthodoxies. >
I feel the same way. Even if I could, I would not copy Glenn Gould's recordings. I don't always agree with the way he did things, but I always enjoy listening to him.

Anne Smith wrote (May 30, 2001):
Donald Satz wrote:
< Performances not in the mainstream are always going to have detractors and be controversial. What I usually find interesting is how everyone raves about excellent mainstream interpretations as if they set a new and higher level of performance quality. As fine as an excellent mainstream performance might be, it definitely does not shed new light on a work or raise the bar of excellence for others to reach. >
Yes. I have been to more music competitions than any hearing person should have to endure. I get very tired of hearing the SAME old thing. Bach's music is so full of life. Performers take the life out of it when they all sound the same.

I admire the fact that Glenn Gould dared to be different. When I listen to him play, I always find something new in Bach. To me, this is the way it should be.

Marshall Abrams wrote (May 30, 2001):
Donald Satz wrote:
< level of performance quality. As fine as an excellent mainstream performance might be, it definitely does not shed new light on a work or >
I wonder if this is roughly correct but overstated. It seems to me that a mainstream performance can reveal new insights, though of course only ones which can be revealed by use of the mainstream language. Other insights might require departure from the mainstream. This would be consistent with Peter Bright's comments:

< others - although I think all of them are good performances. I have practically all of Gould's Bach recordings and many of them (incl the Goldberg '81) are stunning. But Perahia's recording is, for me, even more exceptional in its subtle changes of mood and colour. >

Donald Satz wrote (May 30, 2001):
[To Peter Bright] There's nothing like a good list of GV recordings. Here's mine, and it's only viable through this evening:

Esssential Piano Versions: Gould '81', Tureck/Philips, and Tureck/DG.

Essential Harpsichord : Leonhardt, Hantai, Gilbert, Verlet, Richter, Maggie Cole.

Strongly Recommended: Gould '55', Hewitt, Landowska, Perahia, Koroliov, Tipo, Ross, Ingolfsdottir, Pinnock, Vieru, Rosen.

Recommended: Lifschitz, Suzuki, Xiao Mei, Jarrett, Dershavina, Vinikour, Feltsman, Schirmer, Jarrett.

Not Recommended Except: Schiff for his 28th Variation.

Not Recommended: Peter Serkin, Yudina.

Messed up: Schepkin.

A Total Waste and/or Perversion/Bad Joke: Labadie - Bach Goes Hollywood. This disc is the perfect example of the worst kind of modern string performances.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (May 31, 2001):
[To Donald Satz] I enjoy Gould's '55 very much. But one of my favorites is a bit eccentric: the recording by Canadian Brass (BMG/RCA Red Label 63610). It's a wonderful transcription. I enjoy the interpretation; very good separation of the voices. And of course, who can resist a tuba for the looowww notes.

Also strongly recommended is the version by the New European Strings Chamber Orchestra, Dmitri Sitkovetsky cond. (Nonesuch 79341-2) which demonstrates that the GVs are eminently suited not only for keyboard (and brass) but strings. The recording quality and musicianship is excellent. Check it out.

Mocfujita wrote (May 31, 2001):
Have you ever heard Ms. Mari Kumamoto's Goldberg? It is beautiful. She met Gould himself and got a messege from him. She is wonderful.

John Thomas wrote (May 31, 2001):
[To Mocfujita] Was this before or after his death?

Mocfujita wrote (June 1, 2001):
[To John Thomas] She met him about 25 years ago. She was a junior high and dreamed to be a pianist.

 

The Goldberg Variations

Patrick Nilsson wrote (November 22, 2001):
To me the second recording that Glenn Gould did is far better than the first, but surprisingly there are some critics who favour the first recording, that was done 27 years earlier by a young and unexperienced man.

The main argument is the same reason why I seldom read authors younger than 40 since they seldom got very much to say - there are of course exceptions like Kafka who wrote one of his best pieces "Die Verwandlung" in the early days and one of his worst "Forschungen eines Hundes" the very same year he died - but also because the estetic value seems to be on a different level.

Deryk Barker wrote (November 27, 2001):
Patrick Nilsson wrote:
< To me the second recording that Glenn Gould did is far better than the first, but surprisingly there are some critics who favour the first recording, that was done 27 years earlier by a young and unexperienced man.
The main argument is the same reason why I seldom read authors younger than 40 since they seldom got very much to say >
Do you apply this to composers? LIke Mozart, Schubert, Purcell...

Ray Bayles wrote (November 27, 2001):
The numbers who prefer the earlier version are huge... sometimes the years just make you older, not necessarily better. The trick is being able to listen without know which version and know the difference. Too many people really don't know, and choose the new edition based on the cleaner sound and better sound dynamics.

Patrick Nilsson wrote (December 1, 2001):
[To Deryk Barker] The question seems obvious but it isn't. What I'm getting at is that people grow. They change their perspectives in life and they get wiser. Not by nature, some fail in this quest of their own truth and just like Kafka did, these people will erode.

Yes, I believe it is applicable to composers since I do appreciate the late Mozart more with Die Zauberflöte and The Clarinet Concerto; I do appreciate the late Beethoven and his late string quartets more and I do appreciate more the late Strauss when he is creating Vier Letzte Lieder.

Bernard Chasan wrote (December 2, 2001):
Patrick Nilsson on the superiority of late works:
< Yes, I believe it is applicable to composers since I do appreciate the late Mozart more with Die Zauberflöte and The Clarinet Concerto; I do appreciate the late Beethoven and his late string quartets more and I do appreciate more the late Strauss when he is creating Vier Letzte Lieder. >
I can hardly argue with Patrick's cited late works, but at the same time there are gems in the early works of the masters which should not be overlookedin the quest for seasoned wisdom. Good examplare the early string trios of Beethoven, or his infinitely inventive and quirky opus 10 piano sonatas. These should not be dismissed as mere preludes to what came later. I have listened to the Bartok Quartets for years, but never paid much attention to the first until recently - a big mistake. I could also mention Zemlinsky's beautiful Clarinet Trio, and Schoenberg's early quartets and orchestral music, but of course to even mention the S word is to cause gnashing of teeth and rending of garments on this list, so I will refrain.

Ray Bayles wrote (December 2, 2001):
People change as they age... they don't necessarily "grow". There are huge numbers of people who did their most creative work early in life and produced nothing of significance after age 30 or 35.

Gould is one of the few that could come up with something new upon reexamination of Bach. Not everybody agrees that the "new" version was the better one. There are 7 different recordings of Gould's Goldberg's, most of them badly recorded, but the performances leave me with the belief that only the famous two were special creative performances. I personally do not believe the later version has a better or "wiser" perspective.

In composition, I think there is just a much longer learning curve that is also affected by the suggestions and criticisms of contemporaries... as well as the wear and tear of life that results in some more powerful works, as in the Beethoven late quartets.

Robert Peters wrote (December 3, 2001):
Ray Bayles wrote:
< Gould is one of the few that could come up with something new upon reexamination of Bach. Not everybody agrees that the "new" version was the better one. There are 7 different recordings of Gould's Goldberg's, most of them badly recorded, but the performances leave me with the belief that only the famous two were special creative performances. I personally do not believe the later version has a better or "wiser" perspective. >
I prefer this later version because the roller-coaster speed of the first recording makes me angry every time I hear it. Some of the Variations sound like mindless virtuoso stunts, something I deeply detest. (And he skips all the repeats in both versions. I want the Goldbergs complete.)

Deryk Barker wrote (December 4, 2001):
[To Robert Peters] Surely he doesn't slip every repeat in the later recording.

Jocelyn Wang wrote (December 4, 2001):
Bernard Chasan wrote:
Patrick Nilsson on the superiority of late works:
<< Yes, I believe it is applicable to composers since I do appreciate the late Mozart more with Die Zauberflote and The Clarinet Concerto; I do appreciate the late Beethoven and his late string quartets more and I do appreciate more the late Strauss when he is creating Vier Letzte Lieder.
< I can hardly argue with Patrick's cited late works, but at the same time there are gems in the early works of the masters which should not be overlookedin the quest for seasoned wisdom. Good examples are the early string trios of Beethoven, or his infinitely inventive and quirky opus 10 piano sonatas. These should not be dismissed as mere preludes to what came later. >
One should also remember that the Pathetique and Moonlight are also relatively early Beethoven.

< I have listened to the Bartok Quartets for years, but never paid much attention to the first until recently - a big mistake. I could also mention Zemlinsky's beautiful Clarinet Trio, and Schoenberg's early quartets and orchestral music, but of course to even mention the S word is to cause gnashing of teeth and rending of garments on this list, so I will refrain. >
Thank goodness.

Yes, it stands to reason that a composer's talent will tend to develop over time, and greater works will usually be the payoff. One wonders what Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Chopin (all of whom died in their 30s) would have done had they reached as far as middle age. But there are also those composers who are generally better known for their early works (Stravinsky comes to mind).

Donald Satz wrote (December 5, 2001):
Deryk Barker writes concerning Gould's 1981 CBS/Sony recording:
< Surely he doesn't slip every repeat in the later recording. >
Not even close to every repeat. In Gould's 1955 recording, he plays some of the variations so fast and without repeats that I could sneeze, clean up, and the variation would already be over.

Dave Harman wrote (December 5, 2001):
Jocelyn Wang wrote:
< Yes, it stands to reason that a composer's talent will tend to develop over time, .... But there are also those composers who are generally better known for their early works (Stravinsky comes to mind). >
Like Schoeberg?

Norman M. Schwartz wrote (December 6, 2001):
[To Donald Satz] Perhaps one of the many reasons he gave up playing before a live audience. On recordings one just hits the <---- button. (Yes, I know, no CDs in 1955.)

Deryk Barker wrote (December 6, 2001):
[To Donald Satz] It was a typo, I meant "surely he doens't omit". The original poster seemed to be implying that Gould played no repeats in either of his studio recordings.

Steve Schwartz wrote (December 6, 2001):
Dave Harmon replies to Jocelyn Wang:
< Like Schoeberg? >
No, more like Florsheim.

John Dalmas wrote (December 6, 2001):
Dave Harmon replies to Jocelyn Wang: < Like Schoeberg? >
and Steve Schwartz demurs: < No, more like Florsheim. >
Yes, his early works are much better known, especially the high buttons.

 

Gould's Salzburg

Juozas Rimas wrote (September 15, 2003):
long time ago I remember reading Bradley Lehman's enthusiastic description of Gould's Salzburg Goldbergs on this list. I have an opportunity to get this recording but, as far as I understand, it's live which brings up the following question: how abundant are technical mistakes in the recording? If Gould's 1955 and 1982 recordings are fixed by splicing nicely, how does the live recording compare for the ears used to those polished studio recordings?

By the way, is it true that there is a mistake left unfixed in Gould's recording of the Capriccio from the 2nd partita? I adore this particular recorded piece but I can hear at least one slip of the fingers there. It's noticeable even to my ear of a non-performer, unless I'm simply mistaken. I couldn't hear any technical mistakes in other recordings by Gould though, therefore I'm sort of afraid of the possible barrage of flaws in the Salzburg recording.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 15, 2003):
[To Juozas Rimas] Well, there's no "barrage" of flaws in that Salzburg performance of the Goldbergs. Fear not. In 37 minutes of continuous playing, there are VERY few minor spots where he brushed a neighboring note along with the correct one. That is, his control was astonishing; and he wasn't playing safely, either, he was taking chances. (The spontaneity and whimsy are remarkable.) I haven't gone through it with a red pencil counting mistakes, because that's not what music is about....

The only memorable problem area is at the beginning of variation 29 where he's added octaves to the bass leaps, and misses a few but keeps going. (He also played octaves there in the 1955 recording, but single notes [as written] in 1954 and 1981.) So what? Musically it comes across that the whole piece has built up to this point and he's let himself get carried away with his ecstasy. The octaves just make it that much more exciting, over the top. He finishes variation 28 and launches right into 29 at breakneck tempo before he's quite ready to do so, hits clinkers in bars 2 and 3, and then quickly gets himself back on track. (There are also a few minor slips in the second half of 29: maybe he was mentally saying, "Dammit, I got all the way to here with no problems!"? A performer's mind can do that: as soon as one dwells on a mistake that just happened, a bit of concentration is lost and it's easier to make more slips. That's both the hazard and euphoria of live performance, and the "Non-Take-Twoness" that Gould wrote about.) Anyway, the music doesn't suffer.

Sviatoslav Richter's legendary live recording of Mussorgsky's "Pictures" has a lot more missed notes in it than this Gould perfof the Goldbergs does!

As for Gould in the Capriccio of Partita #2, yes, in bar 27 he halfway missed the right hand's F# (slight slip); and in bar 18 he mis-learned the last note as B-flat instead of B. So?

If you want to hear Gould really mess up, find the 1962 Baltimore performance of Brandenburg #5 (issued on Music & Arts) where Gould had a memory slip and left out about 15 seconds of the music. This is not to make fun of Gould in any way, but simply to remind us that he was just as human as anybody else.

"For wrong notes, nobody was ever put in jail!" - Arturo Toscanini

 

The GG Variations

Zev Bachler wrote (November 6, 2003):
Got my Gould Variations from Amazon today and discovered to my amazement and anger that the CDExtra included as a bonus and which was the only reason I ordered it is corrupted in the video of fugue XV (the unfinished) and is practically unplayable.

Had any of you a better experience with this cd ?

Thomas Braatz wrote
scholarship &c

Brad, thanks for your efforts in delineating some important characteristics in some of the mvts. of the Magnificat. It is very important to consider these along with all those already suggested by Dürr in his comparative analysis of the 2 versions of the Magnificat. I am certain that your type of analysis will also be helpful for those who have studied the Magnificat in its two incarnations.

Brad stated:
>>This one is easy, using a standard scholarly tool.
Go to http://www.npj.com/bach/bb-complex.html and click on (exactly) the items "Vocal" and "Magnificat" and then Submit Search. You will see that 54 items come up. Furthermore, *to my knowledge* all the examples I presented today, vis-a-vis temperament in those Magnificat movements, have not been treated in that way BY ANYONE until I did them myself today; it was original research by me, today. Perhaps someone else has covered this, but it doesn't come up in that database. (That is: add either "Tuning" or "Key characteristics" buttons to the above search, and you get 0.) Whether some other scholar covered it before or not, re the Magnificat, my observations about those three movements rely on my expertise in historical temperament, which was one of my doctoral projects.<<

The fact that it doesn't come up in the database proves very little, Brad. By trying to add "Tuning" or "Key characteristics" you correctly received nothing because no one on the other data entry end entered anything at all about either of these categories and yet the Smithers article “Anomalie of Tonart and Stimmton in the first version of Bach's Magnificat (BWV 243a)" does not even catch the words 'Tonart' and 'Stimmton' because it (the person entering the information) does not understand German. So either nothing has been tallied in either of these categories because of the insufficiencies the data entry specialists or because of fragmentary evidence derived only from titles and short summaries. Try, in desperation, to add "Tonality" to your search and you also get nothing. This Tomita Bibliography is not capable of a full word search on all the documents that it lists, so how can you be sure that another analysis of the Magnificat does not include your observations?

What this means is that your 'unique' discovery on the spur of the moment today may still be lurking in the Tomita Bibliography crying out for someone with the accessibility to all the DISSERTATIONS and whatever to reveal the information that you considered as being uniquely your own discovery.


Brad asked: >>How likely is it that an amateur researcher (no matter how diligent a connoisseur) is going to come up with something where ALL the experts are wrong?<<

Can't you put the hoop a little higher than this Brad? Is this a crap shoot game we are involved in where the odds are all important? How about: "How likely is it that experts like Brad, no matter how lazy or careless they may be in matters of scholarship [relying upon defective results gleaned from databases and misconstruing the results of the evidence that they have found], are going to come up with something where ALL the experts are right"? I would contend that the likelihood is rather high in the latter respect, particularly when it is a matter of 'getting onto the current bandwagon which happens to be going through town.'

Brad asked: >>How would it look for anyone involved if Heighes really did bluff, not looking at the Smithers article he cited, and somebody enterprising could show that he and all the consultants missed the bluff, by simply looking up Smithers' article? Scholars *cannot afford to bluff in print*. They would never be hired again.<<

Perhaps that is why he [Heighes] remained very general about the topic: he could afford to engage in a 'bluff' without being caught since his bland [but intriguing] statement gave no specifics about the article except that which could be found in a very succinct description in another source/bibliography.

Brad, be honest now. Admit directly that you have not read or even glanced at Dürr's commentary in the NBA KB! Let's not go chasing all over the map. Where is a true expert going to find the greatest reliability in the information offered: in a half dozen DISSERTATIONS (no matter how recent they may be) and short summaries in the Tomita database, or in the solid work of an expert who has before him all the necessary source materials and expertise that allowed him to play such a significant role in the presentation and analysis of Bach's oeuvre?

Thomas Radleff wrote (November 7, 2003):
[To Zev Bechler] sorry that your copy is corrupted - I can imagine your frustration, helpless in front of the screen. Since mine is o.k., I can offer a self-burnt copy. If you´re interested, please contact me off list: (Of course I´m not sure if this one will work well.)

Haunting coincidence: Bach left us a fragment, Gould interrupts his playing a few bars before Bach did, and your CD makes its own ending... wonder what is going to happen next in our thriller "The Curse of the Unfinished Fugue".

Zev Bachler wrote (November 7, 2003):
[To Thomas Radleff] Thank you for your generosity. In fact my kid the wiz suggested the idea of copying the video section and then burning it . Something about mis-decoding which the burning process corrects, and it worked great. In fact the new burnt cd is much better also in that its program lets me have it in full screen and control the video as it runs, which is not an option in the original.

Re the adventures of the AoF, we need to add the mystery of the unfinished organ recording by GG. Only befits the greatest piece ever created. Too powerful for our feeble vessel.

Thanks again,

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 6, 2003):
[To Thomas Radleff] Imagine my shock in reading through van Eck's book J S Bach's Critique of Pure Music, where he goes through each Contrapunctus in turn offering various insights about it, pretty good stuff for the most part. And the book is in some senses (to me, anyway) a thrilling page-turner. Then just when the reader expects a big
wrap-up with the unfinished "Fuga a 3 Soggetti" van Eck does exactly nothing. He doesn't even address it! The curse of the unfinished fugue, indeed.

The book has other, much more serious, lacunae (namely a lack of broad-enough perspective in his temperament points). But most of the material that is there is worth reading anyway, if one knows how to make allowances around the problems. Within the author's vista, he takes things as far as they can be taken and the way he gets there is intriguing.

=====

As for that GG disc, does the video clip offer anything that wasn't already available in Sony's VHS series? Or is this just a repackaging of the same old thing in new format, for additional revenue?

Thomas Radleff wrote (November 8, 2003):
The GG Variations + van Eck

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< As for that GG disc, does the video clip offer anything that wasn't already available in Sony's VHS series? Or is this just a repackaging of the same old thing in new format, for additional revenue? >
- I don´t know anything about these GG-Sony videos, sI never had & still don´t have a video recorder. But I guess the CD consists of "previously released material", because there is no "first release !!!" indication anywhere.

Regarding van Eck´s book about the AoF - you´ve been announcing a possible review. My question, or rather my wish: could you write something that fits for the minds of mere listeners who do not read the score nor strike the keys? Or is ist toooo specially musicological?

very curious,

Thomas.

 

Audio systems & the Gould Goldbergs

Bob Henderson wrote (February 17, 2004):
Even a small radio can convey the emotional impact of music. I heard my first HIP of Beethoven on a car radio and was bowled over. But that does not mean we would choose that medium had we a choice. The audio industry is a haven for the small craft producer and their products are a joy. I replaced by entire system (other than a vintage Thorens) this year. Only the third system I have owned in my 63 years. More than worth the money.

Donald Satz wrote (February 18, 2004):
[To Bob Henderson] Bob's posting below got me to thinking about the effect that audio equipment might have on the conclusions of reviewers (magazines and on-line). With little exception, reviewers say nothing about the audio system they used, and we all know how wide the differences are. Some use equalizers, others not. Some prefer bass-heavy systems, some look for clarity, some for 'fizz', etc. Some are listening on headphones, some on their computer speakers.

Even if the reviewer does list the components, we have no idea how each is setting the 'variable' controls such as bass, superbass, treble, etc.

Do I really want to know all this information - no, but I imagine many would appreciate it.

Jack Botelho wrote (February 18, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] I've wondered about this for a long time. At least with personal reviews on email lists, there have been comments about "scratchy violins, etc." - but how much does this have to do with the characteristics of that person's audio system?

With regard to harpsichord recordings, it's crucial to have a quality system, or at least, true high current amplification, or it will sound unlistenable (at least to my ears).

An point of view in case anyone is interested:

High current amplification largely guarantees "warm" sound reproduction. Most high quality systems, and especially the older ones, are "high current". "Cold"/ low current sound reproduction may ensure the listener will cease pursuing early music listening - it's like attempting to learn to play an instrument that is cheap quality - the sound may not reward the player to pursue his/her efforts.

There are even some very expensive audio systems out there that reproduce recordings very differently, or idiosynacratically, than most. The result may be that the listener will favour recordings that suit the characteristics of the system. For example, a friend of mine has an $8,000 B&O; it's excellent for violins, but not so great at the bottom end of the spectrum. How could such sound reproduction effect one's listening preferences, and subsequent reviews?

Donald Satz wrote (February 18, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] I don't have any problem with harpsichord recordings played on low-end equipment; it's still the same instrument. Do any of you enjoy harpsichord music played at very high volume? I like it now and then, although my eardrums eventually de-activate.

Jack Botelho wrote (February 18, 2004):
"Indeed it might make a big difference! I too am eager to see recommendations of good systems as I'm looking to upgrade my very old one sometime.... And I listen to so many discs on a cheapo clock radio, or on the computer (fighting against its fan noise), or in the car instead of on anything decent."
I'm sure there are many of us here who love their audio systems, especially those good old high quality ones that go for thousands and thousands of miles.

I've had a hell of a time for years with audio systems, and the solution for me was two separate speaker systems (KEFs and a pair of large mass-produced speakers with 15" woofer - no drums are ever played on these though, only timpani at the very most).

Two separate speaker systems ensures that when I get tired of one set, I switch to the other. (No single speaker system is ever perfect, and all have their idiosyncrasies, in my opinion.)

At the heart of my very modest system is a true high current Rotel amplifier. I could only afford 35 watts per channel for now, but its true power, and feeds each speaker with four inputs (bi-wired).

It's "warm" - and that's the main thing.

Without it I wouldn't be listening to any music at all.

Fumitaka Sato wrote (February 18, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] To be fair on the recorded sounds, computer speakers would not be used for reviewing them, but headphones for mixing might be somewhat reliable for evaluation. Equalizer has some effects on the impression with headphones, though. (Using headphones is not a good idea for listening the organ music.)

Donald Satz wrote (February 18, 2004):
[To Fumitaka Sato] What problem do you see in using headphones for organ music?

Fumitaka Sato wrote (February 18, 2004):
Donald Satz wrote:
< What problem do you see in using headphones for organ music? >
Organ music through headphones is often excessively burdensome to ears, after a long play.

Donald Satz wrote (February 18, 2004):
[To Fumitaka Sato] Got it - I can't deny that a strong dose of Rubsam's Bach on headphones leaves me spent.

Sato Fumitaka wrote (February 18, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] Yup, but I think everybody knows the true reason of avoiding headphones for listening to organ music. Probably only the mixing engineers can legitimately use headphones for organ music.

Carol wrote (February 19, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] I was wondering if someone might ask about audio systems, Jack, because I have discovered one (actually, the credit has to go to my rock'n'roll musician son, who is very up on these things) for only $150.00, that beats many very expensive systems I've heard, including the Sony we had, and the very much acclaimed Bose, in sound quality for the money. It's Cambridge Soundworks' "Microworks" speaker system (not their radio/CD player, which is comparable to the Bose wave product). We have one downstairs, attached to the DVD player, and the high ceiling adds to the effect. But I also got one for my computer upstairs. Although the speakers are smaller than the cheap ones that came with the computer, the effect is amazing. The system was invented by Henry Kloss; perhaps you've heard of him. The "subwoofer", about the size of a computer, sits on the floor against a wall, and provides the bass, and therein lies the magic, as I've been told. It's a little different than the wave system, but in what way, I don't know, exactly. I don't listen to any strictly organ music, except that in the Cantatas, so don't know how some of you would like it for that. Anyway, if you don't like it, you can return it, but no one I know has. I think they're only sold in the Boston and, I've heard, SanFrancisco, areas, but they do ship, and they're probably on line. (I have no relatives or friends connected with this operation.) Be that as it may.... if anyone objects to recommending one product over another, just pretend you didn't read this. I can hardly see why anyone would; we talk about likes and dislikes in
recordings all the time.

Another thing, if you have the Herrewaughe CD Roms included with the Matthew Passion and B Minor Mass, the experience is dramatic with these speakers.

Bob Henderson wrote (February 19, 2004):
Henry Kloss has over time built a fine reputation among people who value good sound. Anything he makes will prove interesting. Bose on the other hand has a first rate advertizing and marketing department. My sound system is as important to me as my auto and I have spent about the same on it: costs about as much as a good used car. No regrets. I cant imagine listening to this music on computor speakers!

 

Gould's 1981 GV

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 20, 2004):
Jack Botelho wrote:
< I'll have to check that recording out, as well as the Gould 1Goldbergs which you pointed out.
In a way, it was Gould who ruined the Goldbergs for me in his final recording of those variations, and the broadcasts on Canadian television of his performance of that work: his ego seemed to be sprawled all over the keyboard. Brilliant in its own way of course. >
Yes: as I've remarked elsewhere, I think his 1981 recording is more a piece composed by Glenn Gould about Being Glenn Gould, coincidentally using Bach's notes as a framework, than a straightforward performance of the Goldberg Variations composed by Bach. Probably a minority opinion, but hey.

 

Goldberg Variations BWV 988: Details
Recordings:
1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019
Comparative Review: Goldberg Variations on Piano:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Comparative Review: Round-Up of Goldberg Variations Recordings:
Recordings | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
GV - R. Barami, J. Crossland, O. Dantone, D. Propper | GV - M. Cole | GV - J. Crossland | GV - E. Dershavina | GV - S. Dinnerstein | GV - R. Egarr [Lehman] | GV - R. Egarr [Satz] | GV - R. Egarr [Bright] | GV - Feltsman | GV- P. Hantai | GV - P. Hantaï (2nd) | GV - K. Haugsand | GV - A. Hewitt | GV - R. Holloway | GV- H. Ingolfsdottir | GV - J. Jando | GV - B. Lagacé | GV - G. Leonhardt | GV- K. Lifschitz | GV - A. Newman | GV - T. Nikolayeva 3rd | GV- J. Payne | GV - W. Riemer | GV - C. Rousset | GV - S. Schepkin, M. Yudina & P. Serkin | GV - A. Schiff [ECM] | GV- H. Small | GV - M. Suzuki | GV - G. Toth | GV - K.v. Trich | GV - R. Tureck [Satz] | GV - R. Tureck [Lehman] | GV- B. Verlet | GV - A. Vieru | GV - J. Vinikour | GV - A. Weissenberg | GV - Z. Xiao-Mei
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Quodlibet in GV | GV for Strings
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
GV - D..Barenboim | GV - P.J. Belder | GV - E. Dershavina | GV - S. Dinnerstein | GV - R. Egarr | GV - V. Feltsman | GV - C. Frisch | GV - G. Gould | GV - P. Hantaï | GV - R. Holloway | GV - J. Jando | GV - K. Jarrett | GV - G. Leonhardt | GV - V. Makin | GV - A. Newman | GV - S. Ross | GV - A. Schiff | GV - R. Schirmer | GV - H. Small | GV - G. Sultan | GV - G. Toth | GV - R. Tureck | GV - S. Vartolo | GV - B. Verlet
Article:
The Quodlibet as Represented in Bach’s Final Goldberg Variation BWV 988/30 [T. Braatz]

Glenn Gould: Short Biography | Recordings of Non-Vocal Works | Recordings of Vocal Works
General Discussions:
Part 1
Reviews of Non-Vocal Recordings:
Bach's Toccatas for Harpsichord from Watchorn & Troeger (3 Parts)
Discussions of Non-Vocal Recordings:
Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - played by Glenn Gould

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Last update: ıDecember 21, 2006 ı19:07:55