[f_minor] Gould and Rachmaninoff

James Atkins Pritchard jamesatkinspritchard at gmail.com
Thu Jul 15 01:30:15 EDT 2010

I have to say that a complete Art of the Fugue on the piano is at the top of
my list of things I wish GG had left us; I believe he would have recorded it
if he had lived longer. I also would love to have some Handel on the piano.
And generally more English music from the 16th-18th centuries. Do other
people have "I wish he recorded this" lists?

Best regards,


On 14 July 2010 09:37, Houpt, Fred <fred.houpt at rbc.com> wrote:

>  GG was highly selective when defining music whose forms were overly
> virtuosic.  For example, there are many Brahms pieces that are very hard to
> play, especially the 2'nd Piano Concerto (gosh, did GG play this one or was
> it only #1?) and yet he loved Brahms.  There are sections in the Goldberg
> that are as complex and devilishly difficult to play as anything Liszt did
> yet we never complain about how easy GG made it sound.  It is true that Bach
> would have found Liszt's overt drawing of attention to his own physical
> skills to be gross.
> GG's Chopin, for me, is like listening to him roll over it with a heavy
> steam roller, delighting in pulling apart all the thinly laid
> superstructure, performing the music as if it had no skeleton and smirking
> all along.
> It is also true that Rach like other Russian composers often wears his
> heart all over the notes and perhaps GG's sometimes Apollonian sensibilities
> were just put off by such exaggerated postures?  This is then hard to
> explain by GG's choice of that wonderful Bizet short piece on one of his
> recordings.  It is also hard then to understand that very rich emotionalism
> of the Richard Strauss album, which I do treasure.  GG then in my view was
> like many of us, capable of embodying contradictory tastes that defy purely
> rational analysis.  I am saddened that he did not play some Rach and the
> Rhapsody would have bored me as it is waaaaayyyyy over played.  I would have
> enjoyed him doing a sonata or some of the other showy pieces that I so
> enjoy.
> I would have just as much enjoyed GG doing the complete Bach "Musical
> Offering" and complete "Art of the Fugue".  Why he chose to fragment those
> pieces and not take up the whole like the Goldberg's is a mystery.
> cheers,
> Fred Houpt
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org [mailto:
> f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org] *On Behalf Of *James Wright
> *Sent:* Tuesday, July 13, 2010 4:10 PM
> *To:* f_minor at glenngould.org
> *Subject:* [f_minor] Gould and Rachmaninoff
> I believe that this topic has appeared on this list a few times.  A
> reminder that Gould generally dispised Rachmaninoff's works precisely
> because it focuses on the virtuostic and the expressive.  However he felt
> that Rachmaninoff's work as a pianist had some merit, and he owned
> some recordings.
> Most of the standard biographies deal with Gould's disdain for music of
> this kind.  Some of GG's comments on Rach. appear in his short essay on
> Alexis Weissenberg (see, for ex., http://www.solopassion.com/node/6655).
> Personally, I have difficulty understanding Gould's admiration for some of
> Weissenberg's recordings.  It is equally well known that Gould was not
> over-fond of most of Chopin's music, however he wrote that he could live
> without Chopin's piano concertos until he heard Alexis Weissenberg's
> recording.
> J.
> James K. Wright, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor &
> Supervisor of Performance Studies
> School for Studies in Art & Culture: Music
> A917 Loeb Building, Carleton University
> 1125 Colonel By Drive
> Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1S 5B6
> Email: James_Wright at carleton.ca
> Telephone : (613) 520-2600 (ext. 3734)
> Fax : (613) 520-3905
> Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2010 14:15:45 -0400
> From: fred.houpt at rbc.com
> To: f_minor at glenngould.org
> Subject: Re: [f_minor] Facebook
>  [snip]
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