me begin by saying that I am a very serious admirer of Glenn
Gould. I believe that his was one of the greatest musical
minds of the twentieth century, and that he did more to advance
the cause of music than many dozens of other musicians combined.
Let me also state that I am very aware of his quirks and idiosyncrasies,
and fully accept that there are people who dismiss him as
a charlatan. Having said that, I am sad to report that this
recording, despite the record label’s hype and hyperbole,
fails pretty miserably.
begin with the piano. Gould’s instrument for this recording
had a technical flaw in that many of the notes in the middle
register struck double, giving an incessant hiccup that after
about five minutes goes from being “old-sounding” as Gould
believed, to being flat out annoying. It is as if a great
master was forced to play on some old beaten down practice
room instrument. Then there is Glenn’s famous singing. Well,
it’s as obnoxious as ever in this recording.
for the music itself, we all know that Gould futzed with tempi
and articulation. No exceptions here to that habit either,
and the music although never dull, can become rather distorted
in the end, particularly when he chooses to play something
interesting indeed are the outtakes from the 1955 recording
sessions. All in mono, these recordings were never released
until this disc. They show just how meticulous and painstaking
an artist Gould was, and the subtle differences between each
take are quite remarkable.
this recording had been made with a fully functional piano,
even Gould’s humming and singing might be forgiven. There
are, however, just too many annoyances to make this performance
enjoyable, and so I must commend it only to the most die-hard
of Gould fans; which sadly, excludeth me, in spite of myself.
Try Andras Schiff on Decca as an alternative.