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Sarah Beth Briggs
The Glenn Gould Trilogy - A Life
1 - The Idea of Music [73.59]
2 - The Drop-Out [77.19]
3 - The Quiet in the Studio [76.59]
Written by Michael Stegemann
Glenn Gould: Tom Zahner
Narrator: Leslie Malton
Other voices: Jean-Theo Jost, Charles Ripley, Pierre Shrady, Ilene Winkler
rec. March - July 2007, WDR Studios, Cologne, Germany.
713064 2 [3 CDs: 73.59 + 77.19 + 76.59]
This is a curiosity. A
combination audiobook and retrospective; a mixture of docudrama
and radio art; a combination of collage and audio trickery.
What we have here is an attempt to recount the life of pianist
Glenn Gould, who died just 25 years ago. It uses all the
techniques of radio that Gould himself used in his radio
documentaries. “Glenn Gould Trilogy” takes its title, in
part, from the “Solitude Trilogy” that Gould produced for
CBC in the 1960s and 1970s.
Over three CDs, and nearly
four hours, with some 150 musical excerpts, this tells the
story of Glenn Gould from his early days to his death. Covering
his performing and recording career, it is a docu-drama-biography.
Most of the texts spoken by the “Glenn Gould narrator” come
from his own writings, letters, interviews and broadcasts.
In some cases, you hear actual recordings of Gould speaking,
and in others the narrator takes over. His voice is similar
in timbre to Gould’s, but his accent is not; at least it’s
easy to tell which is the real Gould and which is the interloper.
Fans of Glenn Gould will
find this an interesting listen; however, the form of the
work, using overlapping voices, sounds and musical excerpts,
can be jarring. Fortunately, the overlapping voices are used
only anecdotally - as if the producer wanted to show simply
that he could do it. They are annoying and hard to follow.
But most of the work is a more standard radio documentary.
What is perhaps most interesting is the collection of clips
from unreleased Gould recordings - some of his earliest performances,
other radio recordings - that round out the many selections
from his oeuvre.
While I’ll probably not
listen to this again, it was enlightening in the way it shows
Gould’s relationship with his music. However, since I had
recently read a biography of Gould (“Wondrous Strange”, by
Kevin Bazzana), there was little here that was new to me.
If you’re a well-informed Gouldian, this set will interest
you for its curiosity, rather than as an actual biography
of the artist.
While it certainly has
intrinsic merit as a radio broadcast, Sony has released this
to coincide with their new just released final authoritative
last biggest best set of Gould recordings. It makes an interesting
companion for those who want to know more about Gould, and
many Gould fans may enjoy listening to it.
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