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RE: [F_minor] doubts II

This line of discussion is where we have our best ideas worked over.  

What is an accurate and historically correct interpretation, eh?  Gustav Leonhardt's Bach?  I mean, did he play it as if Bach had sat down and plunked? And then again, would Bach have changed his style of playing as he moved from a harpsichord over to a mighty Steinway concert grand? I figure that given enough hours of practicing with what it could do, I bet you that Bach himself would have changed his style of playing.  If so, then why are we so off-side with GG's Bach?  He played it on a 1000 horsepower monster; Bach's was 150 horsepower tinkler. The modern grand evokes changes to interpretation that Bach could only have had the slightest of ideas about.  Bach knew what grand sounds were like: the organs he played on were massive affairs and could almost blow your eardrums out.  But, the keyboards were puny by our standards. 

You raise other ideas that sound like the mannerisms and articulations of the styles, be they German, French, Italian and English.  Again, how are we to know what the politically correct mannerism is supposed to sound like?  When GG does a turn and a twist, is his articulation suspect because his mind has filtered it through so much post modern music? I find that this is too harsh on him. Music is both felt and researched from a "historical" perspective, is it not?  GG arrived at his own comfortable measure as his ego, mind, imagination and instinct blended with his curiosity and aesthetic tastes.....and we have him giving us as personal a JS Bach as any player we have ever heard or will hear.  How can it be otherwise?  



-----Original Message-----
From: f_minor-bounces@email.rutgers.edu [mailto:f_minor-bounces@email.rutgers.edu] On Behalf Of Brad Lehman
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 3:04 PM
To: f_minor@email.rutgers.edu
Subject: Re: [F_minor] doubts II

michael macelletti wrote:
> the point is that beethoven and mozart really have
 > something to offer. when gg superimposes his personality  > on them it comes out in a strange way. mozart appears  > to be under the influence of " fun-house " mirrors.

So does GG's Bach.  :)  It's such a stylistic mash.  He played it as if Bach's music follows Schoenberg's rules.  He deconstructed Bach's music, similar to the way Rosalyn Tureck did with it.  It's interesting, of course, but it doesn't really have anything to do with the French and Italianate features of the music; he stripped those out.  GG's Bach certainly has sold well, always.  It still has next to nothing to do with Baroque principles, though.

Eventually (and I've said this before, years ago), GG's Bach became more "Glenn Gould's Bach" or "GG's deconstructions of Bach as if Schoenberg had written it" than "Bach as played by Glenn Gould".  I am aware that that's probably a minority view in present company. :)

> beethoven and brahms appear manic-depressive , with the
 > manic going to beethoven, and the depressive going to brahms.
 > chopin appears to be transformed into wood.

Well said.

 > with bach, it works. it works superbly. but it really seems  > to be limited to there.  ---- and the new works he comes up  > with ? well, that's obviously a contrarian approach.
 > a very smart idea in a world full of pianists who can play  > everything.

Canny marketing by GG; agreed.

> i mean , who would want to perform the tchaikovsky
 > first concerto knowing that many have heard the greatest
 > recordings of it already.-----        but really !
 > works like those of  schoenberg and webern are just good  > for the colored pencil industry. they come in very handy  > trying to analyze them.

I have to disagree with this part.  I think GG's interpretations of Schoenberg's music are GG's best work.  He put it across directly as music, making it warm and inviting INSTEAD OF intellectual colored-pencil exercises.  He played Schoenberg's p 11, especially, as if it were several more Brahms intermezzi (another of his best recordings).  That works.  It emphasizes Schoenberg's romanticism, and what Schoenberg said about his own approach.

When GG then turned around and recorded Bach suites as if they're dozens more "wanna-be" examples of Schoenberg's Suite Op 25, just having different notes...well, that doesn't work so well.  Entertaining, yes. 
Brilliant in a way that's _sui generis_.  Marketable, too.  "GG's Bach," 
reducing the music to the motivic level and lining it up with great creativity and clarity...not being content with merely playing it for what it is.  GG didn't allow Bach's music to emerge on its own terms, or in its own stylistic and historical contexts.  It had to be made "new", in terms of what was sort of new in about 1950.  It was Bach as seen through the off-rose-colored neoclassicism of Hindemith, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky.  Oh yeah, Hindemith: another of GG's strengths as an interpreter.

GG's own string quartet?  The style of early Schoenberg and Hindemith, warmed over, with a heavy dose of Reger.

Brad Lehman
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