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Re: GG: Italian Concerto

Re:  Italian Concerto
Thanks to Rob for info. on composition date for the
piece;  I'd thought it was earlier in Bach's output.

One might debate whether the Italian Concerto is a "showpiece",
but I think there is no question about it lacking the kind of
contrapuntal interest and intensity found in later works like
the ART OF FUGUE.  I think one could make the case that it's
"compositional footprints" relate it more closely to the earlier,
keyboard-virtuoso type works that GG so often criticized.

As to Gould's statements being contradictory, I'm not so sure.
I think that often his *actions* were not consistent with his
philosophy.  There are many examples:  slamming Capitalism while
mastering the stock market, hating late period Mozart while recoding
all of the Sonatas, etc.

I don't see too much evidence of contradictory statements by Gould;
I do see changes in his performance style and choice of repertoire,
though. One reason I prefer his middle and late period
playing to his earlier work is that he seems to be "less out to
make a point" by playing things unbelievably fast or unbelievably
slowly, for example.  Later, he also seemed less interested in
"making an individual statement" through his recordings.  His early
work always sounds like a virtuoso pianist "pulling out all the stops"
to me, whereas his later work sounds like a great *musician* who
happens to be playing a piano (very well!).

I'm still at a loss at to why he revisited the Italian Concerto in
particular and I wonder if he discussed this with anyone at the time.

Incidentally, do we know for sure that he actually *did* re-record
this piece in the early 80s?  Is anyone aware of plans to release
this newer version?


On Wed, 5 Mar 1997, Rob Haskins wrote:

> On Wed, 5 Mar 1997, John P. Hill wrote:
> > The Italian Concerto is one of those flashy showpieces that Bach wrote
> > early on as a virtuoso keyboardist.  
> The Italian Concerto was published around 1735.  I don't think
> it's a very early work.  It certainly has none of the "lapses"
> (if one can think of J. S. Bach as having "lapses"!)
> that I associate with early pieces like the D-major toccata.
> > Gould's criticism of it always
> > focused on it's lack of contrapuntal interest and the fact that it was
> > a showpiece for keyboard virtuosity (he hated these kinds of
> > quasi-competitive displays...).
> As always, Gould was being contradictory. I can't really see what
> is particularly show-offy about the Italian Concerto compared
> to the fourth and fifth partitas, both pieces Gould loved.
> It's true he hated the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue and the
> performance shows -- not so, I think, for his performances
> of the Italian Concerto.
> Rob Haskins
> Eastman School of Music