[f_minor] [f-minor]: From Kevin Bazzana

Jörgen Lundmark jorgen.lundmark at sundsvall.nu
Mon Jun 20 18:29:19 EDT 2011

Hello Mary,

Thanks for the kind words -- not everytime my name is linked with 
quotation from "King Lear" :-) This time, though, it really is Kevin 
Bazzana who should get the praise. He's still the number one authority 
on all things Gouldian and it's a shame that his services aren't used 
more frequently. What ever happened to the grand plans for the web site 
for example??? Bazzana's two books on Gould are required reading, but 
that is something you all know I guess. You should also check out his 
excellent biography on the Hungarian pianist Ervin Nyiregyhazi, "Lost 
Genius". A more dramatic and strange life would be hard to imagine.

"The Secrect Live Tapes" (Sony 88697723182) does contain the 
Brahms/Krips and also the Bach Dminor (fastest ever recording with 
Gould) and Schoenberg with Mitropoulos. Perhaps this is an indication 
that Sony will keep on reissuing live performances with Gould. Haven't 
seen anything on that though. As Kevin Bazzana indicated, Gould reords 
are still selling very well and that is always good news for us fans. 
Still, I'm very happy that M&A started their Gould involvement again. I 
hope it'll force Sony to do something else than just re-releasing the 
same old CDs.

Speaking of which I have in my possession five different editions of the 
Goldberg 1955. The first(?) CD version from 1988 in the ”The Glenn Gould 
Legacy”-series, the "Glenn Gould Edition", ”Birth of a Legend”, an even 
later transfer in the "Originals"-series, one Naxos transfer and also 
one on Membran. I'm certain there are more out there. I did a quick 
comparison and came to the conclusion that the noise reduction on ”Birth 
of a Legend” is too intrusive and doesn't preserve the clarity of the 
attack as I would wish. The general problem with the 1955 is the rather 
prominent background noise. I've come to accept that and now I actually 
prefer Naxos's rather noisy but at the same time detailed transfer. Any 
other thoughts on this?

As far as the question whether the concert is dead or not, or starting 
to show old-age symptoms -- that is a bit more complicated than just a 
yes or no. I believe that many, many people still love going to concerts 
-- for the music and the wine ;-) --  and that most musicians do earn 
much more money playing concerts than selling records. Does this mean 
that the best performances are to be heard live??? I would say not 
always, and probably less often than a first-class studio recording. I 
more often prefer the clarity of thought and emotions from the best 
studio performances to the intensity of a live performance. This is 
especially true with Gould -- I belong to the category of listeners who 
prefers his later work to the things he did in the beginning of his 
career. Still, there are exceptions of course, and I'm very happy to be 
able to listen to Gould the live artist. I've never been a friend of 
"either or".

Another aspect of this Gouldian topic is of course the traditional and 
uninspired programming of most concert halls. An average music 
enthusiast will only be able to hear concert performances of a fraction 
of the standard repertoire. If we move beyond to lesser common works 
you'd have to travel far and wide to hear that music performed once in a 
lifetime. Those works will most probably be found on a CD instead. In my 
personal experience a live concert experience (and I love to go to 
concerts, sorry Mr. Gould) is also very hard to keep fresh in your 
memory -- I guess some would say that's the very point -- and that is 
for me a substantial drawback. Great music and memorable performances of 
the same are something that should be enjoyed over and over again.

The Zenph experiment is interesting and I was rather enthusiastic before 
listening to the first CD (Goldberg 1955). It was sadly a real 
disappointment since the Zenph version didn't have enough similarities 
with the original recording. To put it simply, the Zenph performance 
lacked clarity and the dynamics was too limited. One of the later CDs -- 
an Art Tatum disk -- was even worse. I do think the idea behind this 
experiment is fascinating, but they need to enhance the resolution of 
the copy so to speak.

> *
> Jorgen you're a marvel:* Let's have some fun - oh /where the devil/  
> have my eyeglasses got to now? - ah yes, ahem,
> hah hah on my head the whole time, silly of me really...
> Samuel Johnson's 'A Dictionary of the English Language' (Penguin 
> Anthology) describes 'marvel':
> *
> MA'RVEL.* n.s. [merveille, French.] A wonder, any thing astonishing. 
> Little in use.
>     /
>       A/ marvel /it were, if a man could espy, in the whole scripture,
>     nothing which might breed a /
>     /  probable opinion, that divine authority was the same way
>     inclinable./
>     *Hooker*.
>     /I am scarce in breath, my lord./
>     /  ------No/ marvel, /you have so bestir'd your valour; you
>     cowardly rascal!/
>     *S**hakespeare's King Lear*.
>     /No/ marvel
>     /My lord protector's hawks do towre so well./
>     *Shakespeare.
>     *
> Now what in the world could have possibly inspired me to consult Dr. 
> Johnson? Could it be the truth(beauty) in words?
> *
> M&A *recordings _/w/_/_ere not banned _ /by Sony, simply subject to a 
> 'cease and desist' letter. Shades of the infamous:
> It depends on what the definition of "is" is. Oh to be a 
> corporate/copyright litigator-see-you-later-alligator in U.S. Chancery.
> "It was all done in a "friendly" manner"".
> Which brings us to Sony's "_The Secret Live Tapes_": has this cd been 
> released _in the US_? I bring this up because the
> 1960 Krips/Buffalo Symphony/Gould 'Emperor' is _also_ to be found on 
> the *M&A* 'Gould In Concert' 6 cd set. I submit the
> following exchange found on a "groups google" blog:
> *Quote:*
> > >It seems a Germany only Glenn Gould CD release, with the Emperor with
> > >Krips/Buffalo, the first "official" publication of the Schoenberg PC
> > >with Mitropoulos/NYPO and one more release pf the Bach BWV 1052 with
> > >Mitropoulos/RCO from Salzburg. Great collection!
> > Is Sony going to issue the Brahms 1st and Strauss Burleske with the
> > Baltimore Symphony under Adler? This appeared on Music and Arts for
> > about ten minutes until the Gould estate started bitchin'. Or has this
> > been issued somewhere already?
> They will dribble everything out bit by bit until there is nothing
> else. And then start a complete reissue project.
> The Gould Estate will endure.
> TD
> *Unquote. *
> In response to Mr. Bazzana's comments about the GG Archives: Point 
> taken. There is no better place (physically) for 'acetates' and old tapes
> to be stored - provided that the wild fans of yesteryear have stopped 
> stealing things.
> A query for you all: In the PBS 'extras' 'outtakes' from "Genius 
> Within" there is a short sequence filmed at what is presumably
> the home of Ray Roberts. I personally was amazed to see a huge array 
> of what looked like studio tapes (Gould's?) in a bookcase
> behind Roberts as he was pulling very personal Gould family 
> photographs out of a cardboard box... _did anyone else notice this_?
> WTF?? And _what_ is Ray Roberts doing with Gould family photos at his 
> house? Was it just for the cameras? What in the world?
> Wherever those "basement tapes" are, I hope that the people involved 
> begin to think about them realistically and render
> them to the Archives where they will be cared for by professionals. 
> Hey CBC, what happened to Taussig's archives? Ooops.
> On a contrarian note, /I would love/ to read commentary from any of 
> you who have bought into *_the concert is dead_* and who
> have *thus _refused_ *to listen to *_any Gould live_* because of it - 
> and who _really believe_ that Zenph has anything to do with Gould.
> As Hitchens is so fond of saying: Bring it on.
> Mary
> **
> > Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2011 21:44:51 +0200
> > From: jorgen.lundmark at sundsvall.nu
> > To: f_minor at glenngould.org
> > Subject: [f_minor] [f-minor]: From Kevin Bazzana
> >
> > Hello all,
> >
> > Here's some elucidations and generally expert comments from Mr. Bazzana
> > himself --
> >
> > I read the recent comments on F-minor, and I thought I might be able to
> > make some helpful comments on a couple of points:
> >
> > = Yes, WHRA (which is based in Canada) is a “sub-label” of Music & 
> Arts,
> > and I also can’t find anything about it on the Music & Arts website. I
> > think the reason is legal: M&A is based in the USA, and these Gould
> > releases cannot legally be sold there—they rely on public-domain laws
> > that make them legal in Canada (and almost everywhere else in the 
> world)
> > but not (yet) in the USA. The confusion is partly my own fault, since I
> > constantly referred to them as “the new Music & Arts CDs”, because I
> > have a long-standing relationship with M&A and its founder, and because
> > that is who I was dealing with then the CDs were being put together.
> > Anyway, fortunately the new GG CDs are being properly sold and promoted
> > and reviewed as “WHRA” releases, and are shown on WHRA’s own website:
> > http://whra.audiophile.ca/en/
> >
> > = It is not exactly correct that “the Music and Arts live recordings
> > were banned from further distribution by Sony”. In the early 1990s, 
> when
> > its own GG Edition was about to be released, Sony did send a
> > cease-and-desist letter to M&A, wanting their Gould recordings
> > discontinued, but actually the laws in question were on M&A’s side, as
> > both parties well knew. (It had to do with what country M&A was
> > registered in and things like that—their Gould CDs were legal, anyway.)
> > It was a classic case of a big corporation threatening a small company,
> > with the small company legally in the right but (quite understandably)
> > reluctant to expend enormous financial resources fighting the matter in
> > court. (M&A’s founder told me at the time that there had been such a
> > case fought between a small label and a major label in Europe, over a
> > similar matter, and the small label had decided to fight—and won. At 
> the
> > time, I was told that the matter had never really been tested in this
> > way in an American court, since it inevitably involves an unequal
> > big-company/small-company fight.) So M&A’s GG releases were not
> > technically banned; they were “willingly” withdrawn, under a threat 
> that
> > was toothless but could only be fought at prohibitive expense. It was
> > all done in a “friendly” manner—the head of M&A and the person
> > representing Sony were old acquaintances—but the implicit threat was 
> there.
> >
> > = Incidentally, a few things in the WHRA box set did previously appear
> > on M&A CDs (and other labels) in the 1980s/90s, including the Bach
> > F-minor concerto and the Weber Konzerstück. But most of the items in 
> the
> > WHRA box are first releases. One item (Schoenberg’s Op. 11) was
> > previously released by the CBC but appears here in a different source
> > with much better sound quality (tape, as opposed to acetate).
> >
> > = Also, it is not correct that I worry about acetates and other old
> > recorded sources in the GG archives in Ottawa—in fact, these are
> > precisely the sources I don’t worry about, since they are in the hands
> > of skilled, reliable archivists. Since GG’s death, however, there has
> > been another trove of recordings—CBS outtakes, live recordings, CBC
> > recordings, private recs. from GG’s teens and early 20s, GG conducting
> > in Hamilton, GG playing his own compositions, etc.—that were in GG’s
> > possession at his death but were kept back by his estate and never made
> > part of the Ottawa archive. (I know about them because, long ago, I
> > received a copy of a survey of these recs. made on the estate’s behalf
> > in 1988.) These recordings (a few of which I was able to pry loose and
> > bring to the public at the 1999 conference in Toronto and subsequently
> > on CBC Radio) were quite literally sitting in someone’s basement for at
> > least 25 years—and quitely likely still are, presumably deteriorating
> > all the while. I heard a few years ago that there was (finally) a plan
> > to make them part of the Ottawa archive, where they would (finally) be
> > properly archives, catalogued, preserved, duplicated, etc. But I don’t
> > know if that has actually been done, or will be. We’re talking here
> > about, for instance, about recordings of the teenage Gould practicing,
> > horsing around, improvising, playing 4 hands with Guerrero, and playing
> > Debussy, Mozart, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Scarlatti, and other un-Gouldian
> > things—and many other unique treasures. The biographical and artistic
> > significance of such things is incalculable—and yet, as far as I know
> > they are soon to celebrate their 30th year of captivity in someone’s
> > basement. Unbelievable.
> >
> > = Finally, yes there will be a Gramophone review of the WHRA box (by 
> Jed
> > Distler), and I anticipate that it will get a good deal of press and
> > sell well. I remember reading in The New Yorker a year or two ago that
> > the boxed sets that the CBC released a while ago (The Young Maverick 
> and
> > The Radio Artist) sold unbelievably well, as did Sony’s State of
> > Wonder/Serenity releases—even these were the umpteenth rereleases of
> > familiar material. So even in a depressed classical-CD market, GG seems
> > to sell noticeably well. I hope these new documents of his work in
> > concert will get similar attention—they deserve it. They’re very 
> revealing.
> >
> > Cheers, KB
> >

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