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
to his final recording, again of the Goldberg Variations
Gould recorded Bach’s keyboard music nearly complete.
This set groups all of Gould’s Bach recordings for £70;
not only those released on LP and CD, but also a number of previously
unreleased recordings: out-takes 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
(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.
This comes to a total of 38 CDs.
This set also includes DVDs: 6 of them. Three of these are directed
by Bruno Monsaingeon, featuring the Goldbergs
and two others with a variety of works. 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
Monsaingeon films, as they have been widely circulated – especially
the Goldberg Variations
video, which was my introduction
to seeing Glenn Gould perform. The CBC videos are less common,
though they have been released in a 10-DVD set Glenn Gould
. 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 out-takes, 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.
Note: this set has been released in Europe, and will be available
in the US at the end of October.