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Re: [F_minor] Re: Technique: A Happy Customer

Thanks for this so much, Mary Ellen!  You have made my day!!

Anne French

On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 8:55 PM, maryellen jensen <
maryellenjensen28@hotmail.com> wrote:

>  This ought to cheer up a few readers. From the San Francisco Examiner of
> October 2008, SF Classical Music Examiner author Scott Fogelsong:
> Several short articles about Glenn Gould, Part 1It sat there on the shelf,
> winking and casting come-thither looks at
> me. I tried to ignore it; I thought about sad stuff; I practiced a bit
> of mindfulness meditation. Nothing worked. We all have our weaknesses. For
> some it's booze, for others cigars, for others...well, you get the idea.
>  For
> me it's "complete" CD box sets. I see one and my vision becomes hazy,
> my heart palpitates, my mind starts toting up my current credit card
> balances.
>  Glenn Gould — never a pianist who rang many bells for
> me — there in a limited edition CD set, courtesy of Sony, heir to the
> beloved Columbia Masterworks of yore. All those CDs, Gould's complete
> Columbia recordings, in their "original jackets", cover art which I
> remember (in some cases) from my teen years, when I was buying some of
> Gould's latest via the Columbia Record Club.
> So I bought it, in a wave of nostalgia and also in a sudden
> re-interest in Gould. What, I thought, would be my reaction to his
> playing these days? I haven't heard a Gould recording in, oh,
> twenty-five years.
>  I should mention that I was a piano major at
> Peabody (and the San Francisco Conservatory), and during my graduate
> days I minored in harpsichord so intensely as to qualify for all
> intents and purposes as a double major. My favored repertory in those
> days was quite close to Gould's; I loved Baroque and earlier music, and
> 20th century stuff (although my tastes ran more towards Copland, Ives,
> and Bartók, rather than the Gould's favored Second Viennese School.)
>  I
> was part of a small group orbiting our teacher Laurette Goldberg,
> absorbing whatever goodies the nascient HIP movement could offer us.
> (Laurette's pet project, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, was still
> some years in the future.) We were young, committed, and dreadfully
> opinionated. Snobs one and all, to the last man (and woman) jack of
> us.
>  Like insufferable snobs the world over, we had absolutely
> nothing to be sniffy about, but of course there was no way we were
> going to discover that on our own.
>  Glenn Gould was our
> Antichrist, the target of our most barbed, carefully-saved-up snide
> zingers. (On the other hand, instant ostracism awaited the one who
> might even whisper that, maybe just perhaps, Gustav Leonhardt's playing
> was ever so, a teeny-tiny bit, well, you know, like...dull.)
>  We
> played the Gould/Bernstein recording of the Beethoven Fourth Concerto.
> After the opening piano solo (in which Gould "breaks" the opening
> chords, very lightly), one of our members arose, unceremoniously
> flicked the tone arm off the record, took up a steak knife, and
> proceeded pull a Norman Bates on the offending LP. (While we sillly
> asses sat there applauding.)
>  Thus I return to Gould after this
> long hiatus — middle aged now, while our Lady of the Steak Knife is a
> very successful lawyer in upper New York State — with a lot of
> music-making, teaching, and commenting under the belt. Snobbery is much
> less an issue nowadays, humility having been acquired through the usual
> series of setbacks, embarrassments, and short sharp shocks.
>  The
> 80-CD set is arranged in chronological order; I'm about at 1965 now,
> just a bit after Gould retired from the concert stage. And I'm having a
> great time, enjoying the performances no end, fascinated by the
> creativity, the nerviness, the striking originality.
>  Certainly
> he sounds like nobody else (a good thing), and certainly there are
> moments that are not my cup of tea. But this is the advantage of a few
> years under the belt: one stops taking such stuff personally. I'd never
> play the first Prelude from the WTC like that, but I'm me, Gould was
> Gould, and that's that.
>  I spend most of my time around
> musicians, with the result that absolutely none of Gould's
> "eccentricities" impress me as being anything other than part of the
> behavioral mainstream. Pianists sing all the time when they play; more
> than a few put on a choreographed show of body postures and facial
> tics. Gould did it all a bit more, but that's all.
>  For that same
> reason I'm disinclined to sign on to theories about various forms of
> mental illness, including Asperger's. Our society is so lamentably
> determined to normalize everybody and everything, explain
> away any departures from that line-in-the-sand norm with appeals to
> medicene or upbringing or astrological portents.
>  Speaking here
> solely as a musician, Gould strikes me as a man with a strong
> personality, somebody who had it his way without compromising his own
> style against the dictates of the normalizing public. He differed from
> the general populace in that he had an astonishing musical gift which
> brought him the financial freedom to live life as he wished.
>  A few issues stand out for me in the recordings up to this point:
>  There
> are abundant moments throughout which remind me that Gould, despite the
> much-vaunted modernism he represented, was fundamentally a Romantic
> pianist, albeit somewhat Apollonian in his approach. He combined a deep
> respect for the score with an open mind about interpretation, something
> characteristic of most older-generation pianists. They never hesitated
> to touch up a passage here or there if they felt it warranted, but they
> were nonetheless operating from a sincere desire to communicate the
> music to the listener.
>  He was a terrific Beethoven player,
> period. There are those who are upset about his liberties, but since
> when was Beethoven ever a composer for conservatives? The composer
> thought out of the box as a matter of course; why should we deny
> creative or even rebellious thinking in his interpreters? Among the
> most fascinating to me are are the 1956 renditions of Op. 110 and the
> daredevil 1965 Op. 10 No. 1 — among the few performances of this last
> I've heard that makes a case for this being one of the most compelling
> of the early sonatas.
>  The Haydn sonatas figured in his
> repertoire, although not as much as I would have wished. The slow
> movement of his 1958 performance of the E-flat "Genzinger" sonata is
> utterly compelling, completely convincing.
>  We should all be
> grateful to record companies such as Columbia who would let a
> best-selling artist record repertory that was unlikely to bring in big
> sales. Gould's pre-1960 recordings include some worthy rareties, such
> as the Krenek Sonata No. 3. He was always willing to look into unusual
> material, and Columbia was willing to go along for the ride. In that
> period, the catalog was heavily slanted towards the familiar, as all
> those big recording stars vied with each other to put out yet even more
> powerful rendition of the Tchaikovsky Pathétique or the Brahms Violin
> Concerto. And in their midst was Glenn Gould, recording Richard
> Strauss's early oddity "Enoch Arden" with the assistance of the grand
> master actor Claude Rains.
>  I'll be continuing the series of
> articles as I move forward in time through the CD set. Right now I'm
> still with Gould the Golden Boy — and I mean that literally, given his
> shimmering dark blond hair and angelic beauty (even if frequently
> obscured by a lack of grooming.) A lot of the Gould repertory is still
> to come — Hindemith, Schoenberg, Sibelius, Wagner, et al., and of course
> acres more Bach.
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