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Re: Gould hasn't recorded the BWV903 Chromatic Fugue

At 03:07 PM 4/15/01 +0200, Juozas Rimas wrote:
Gould hasn't recorded the BWV903 Chromatic Fugue, only the Fantasia. It's
a pity
and strange as well.

Not strange; he hated the piece.

He didn't really record the fantasia, either, only whacked through it for a
television program.  In the program he plays half of the fantasy, then
turns to Bruno Monsaingeon and explains why he doesn't like it.  He claims
that this is his "first and last" performance of it.  He illustrates a few
passages, talking while playing, and compares the piece to bad music for
horror movies.  Then he plays the rest of the fantasy from the point where
he quit.  Then he turns to Bruno and says, "That's Bach for people who
don't like Bach."

His meaning is clear: in his earlier comments he contrasted Bach the
improviser with Bach the organizer.  This final smirk says that people who
like the chromatic fantasy (and, by implication, the Toccata and Fugue BWV
565 and the other popular dramatic/improvisatory Bach pieces) can't handle
the "real" Bach.

To Gould, Bach was a supreme organizer.  The less structured pieces were
(to Gould) inferior and hardly worth his attention.  Perhaps this explains
why he didn't record them.  And given the way he played the pieces he hated
but *did* record (the toccatas, the remake of the Italian Concerto, the
Fantasy BWV 906, ...).........

Michael Stegemann's notes in Sony CD 52620 (JS Bach, Scarlatti, CPE Bach)
point out that
there are 78 BWV numbers of Bach's solo works that Gould didn't
record.  Many of those solo works have multiple movements, plus there are
the ensemble works I mentioned yesterday.  Adding everything up, there are
between 100 and 200 Bach pieces that Gould didn't record.  I agree with
Stegemann that Gould probably never intended to finish them all.

To sum up: GG was happy with Bach's German music.  But Bach's Italian and
French music eluded him, perhaps even embarrassed him.  As Bazzana points
out, GG liked the Bach that Schoenberg liked.

Bradley Lehman, Dayton VA
home: http://i.am/bpl or  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
clavichord CD's: http://listen.to/bpl or http://www.mp3.com/bpl
trumpet and organ: http://www.mp3.com/hlduo

"Music must cause fire to flare up from the spirit - and not only sparks
from the clavier...." - Alfred Cortot