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I'm suffering from a malady, and I'm wondering if other GG fans
experience it too. Once I've heard GG play a work, it's spoiled for me.
For example, today I was listening to a performance of the Beethoven
C-minor concerto by Rudolf Serkin in the record library, truly a great
Beethoven interpreter. The whole time I was listening to it, I realized
that I scarcely recognized the work. For one thing, it seemed so slow,
and the obvious rhythmic fluctuations of Serkin seemed so, well, bad,
compared with Gould's throbbing, rhythmically driving performance of that
same concerto. I realized I couldn't hear the songs hidden in the left
hand, which come through so beautifully with Gould. And in the passages
that required nimble virtuosity (I realize Serkin wasn't known for his
technique), such as the finale, I sorely missed Gould's razor sharp
approach. When I had finished that concerto, I decided to try Leon
Fleisher's Emperor, a benchmark of sorts, I guess. Well, with score in
hand, I noticed how meticulously Fleisher adhered to the score, and
admired the playing, but still missed Gould's unique articulation and
sound. Now, I know that Gould's Emperor has been beaten up by the
critics, but I like it by far, better than any other Emperor that I've
heard. I know critics were often intimidated by Gould's imagination, but
sometimes I wonder if they might have a point. I can't even really listen
to other performers of Mozart, who I think did a better job in most
aspects, without noting all the parts of GG's Mozart that I liked better.
One more example, Scriabin. In almost every critic's report,
Gould's Scriabin #3 is referred to as "unorthodox" and "out of his idiom".
Yet when I listened to Gould play the Scriabin #3 today, I was stunned.
For once, I could actually hear the elaborate left hand work, amd the
multiplicity of lines in the Scriabin. Now my Ashkenazy and Horowitz
disks sound trite, overpedalled, overblown. And yet, this is the way that
Scriabin is *supposed* to sound. But I am still so convinced by
everything that Gould does. I find myself asking myself why Scriabin
would write such an intricate left-hand part if it's just meant to be
pedalled into a blur.
My point is, I sometimes worry that maybe GG's performances
influence my musical bearings a little too much. Rather than see his
performances as unbelievablly creative but unusual interpretations, I
sometimes see them as "the only way to go". I can't really enjoy the
Arrau, Horowitz, etc when I hear them play a work that I am familiar with
through GG. I call it Gould Bias. Any comments?