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Re: [F_MINOR] Glenn Gould's own preferences

If we are to take Gould at his own word (with caution) then he vouchsafed that his favourite composer was Orlando Gibbons, if memory serves me well.  He made one recording of music of this era, I believe and rarely performed the music live, except in his early career.  When you hear what Gould can do with the music you can only deeply lament that he did not record much more of this rich tapestry.  I also am saddened that he did not record more Haydn as his work here is so penetrating and probing, revealing, as usual, rich veins of musical thought that all others had passed by, asleep as it were to Haydn's inspired art.  That is what Gould always does for me and it is why I return to his recordings year after year.  No matter his somewhat crazed Mozart or exaggerated Brahms, the effect that vibrates in the mind after we have received his inspiration is what counts.  For me he telegraphs to us insights that take us by surprise, approaches to motion that always thrill us, revelations of how counterpoint can stand up on it's own and float in the air in a shimmering architecture.  Gould was a penetrating intellectual who knew full well what he was doing, knowing that his approaches were often outrageous.  He had the courage to present his observations, to an audience who had some tolerance for the showmanship of a Horowitz but was far too often dull, turgid and conservative in it's expectations.  Much of Gould's interpretations shattered the rigid ways we had learned or expected to approach music.  He also taught us legions of music we never heard of.  Would we have had any knowledge of the keyboard works of Richard Strauss, let alone the glory of Gibbons and his era? I doubt it and we are more enriched because of Gould's courage to shake us up, teach, annoy and make us think.  As passionately as he loved music, it is hard to say that he loved Schoenberg any less than Bach.  These matters are hard to evaluate.  Let us say that Gould's favourite was the making of music rather than any one musical icon.  We miss you sti


Fred Houpt

-----Original Message-----
From: F_Minor [mailto:F_MINOR@EMAIL.RUTGERS.EDU]On Behalf Of Kate
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 5:33 AM
Subject: [F_MINOR] Glenn Gould's own preferences

We all, no doubt, have our favourites (and not-so-favourites!) among GG's
recordings. Some may create such an emotional response in us that we would
not wish to be without them, in fact we might value them so much that  life
would seem diminished without the experienceof such music. However, we might
be less than ecstatic about other recordings...Perhaps what he was trying to
do was interesting, but we feel he failed to achieve his aims; perhaps we
simply  think  a particular interpretation didn't work or (gasp!) was not
very good!

But did Gould himself have any favourites among his lifetime's output? He
very rarely recorded anything twice; does that mean he was on the whole
satisfied with his work? An obviousexception to this was the Goldberg
Variations;  but at the time he made his second studio  recording in 1981 he
did give his reasons for doing this. It is interesting that he did not only
cite the technical advances in recording that had occurred since the
original 1955 version; he also spoke disparagingly about his own youthful
playing. And this was about what is no doubt his most famous recording!

But of course he left us plenty of other work. He lavished great care and
attention on each effort, not only on the performance itself, but on the
technical aspects of the recording process, so he evidently had very high
standards and expectations about the finished result. But were these
satisfied? He doesn't seem to have been  a vain man, so I doubt he regarded
everything he did as an unqualified success. And he did remark that he
rarerly listened to his own recordings, he simply did not find this
particularly pleasurable. But did he ever say which recordings he was
particular proud of, or regarded fondly  -   and which did _not_ satisfy
him, or in  which he failed to achieve his aims?

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