[f_minor] Beethoven for Fred

Houpt, Fred fred.houpt at rbc.com
Thu Oct 4 07:04:52 MDT 2012

Well you know I greatly admire Brendel and had the joy to hear him in
concert in Toronto.  However, his comments about GG are about as far off
the mark as he accuses Gould of.  However, Brendel is singing from his
own well known song book and he represents a Germanic purist school
which has it's fans, it has it's strengths and after a while it's
obvious short comings.  One cannot ever recall hearing a piano piece of
Beethoven, Schubert or Schuman played by Kempf as revelatory.  Never.
Beautifully played but always "urtext", safe and within proper
boundaries, that Brendel refers to.  Kempf's music making was never
boring but it was always predictable.  
Gould hated this mentality and as an artist he resolutely waged war
against that school of thought.  Brendel is correct in suggesting that
some (he would say most) of Gould's interpretations are not successful.
I would never refer to Brendel's "Goldburg Variations" (did he record
it?) but I would listen to Murray Peraiah, Ivo Pogerelich or Angela
Hewitt.  I cannot possibly imagine Horowitz trying the Goldberg's nor
would I encourage that entire generation of titans (including Artur
Rubinstein).  Perish the thought.  Though, Brendel's unkind words about
Horowitz do not take into consideration the dazzling Scarlatti -
especially the younger Horowitz.  Brendel does not like Rach, ok.  I
happen to adore Rach's music and yes, it is often heart on the sleeve
but for me it all radiates great musicality and emotion.  Especially
delightful are some unusual harmonic cadences that come out of
nowhere.....I love his music...what can I say?


From: f_minor [mailto:f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org] On Behalf Of
maryellen jensen
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 7:26 PM
To: f_minor at glenngould.org
Subject: Re: [f_minor] Beethoven for Fred


 A bit of der Brendel on your chosen topic:

"A well-known American author...once asked various pianists what they
thought of Horowitz. I was unable to contribute to his book because, as
I told him, I was more interested in musical realities than musical

I was not as enthusiastic about Horowitz the artist as many of my
colleagues. And I was not so captivated by him as a pianist either,
since I found that his kind of virtuosity rarely served the music as I
understood it.

...you can either illuminate works with a spotlight from without, or
develop them from within....the spotlights from without are embodied for
me particularly clearly in Glenn Gould. In my view, he was not
interested in deciphering a work from within, but wished instead, as
unexpectedly as possible, to illuminate it from without. He went so far
as to actually hamper an understanding of a composer, and maltreat him,
in order to be original at all costs. It was clearly compulsive.

Gould to me was a classic example of what a performer should not be; as
an eccentric, he seemed determined to oppose the wishes of the composer
or go against the character of the piece.

I've always asked myself: why does this man, who is so gifted, treat
composers in such a disgraceful way? It seems to me that quite a few
people love this kind of sadism...There is nothing wrong in playing
pieces in a variety of ways - but please do so within the limits, within
the character and structure of the piece itself. Gould deliberately
oversteps these limits, or he is simply not aware of them.

...it seems to me that he has no interest in all in the character of the
piece. He is not aware that it exists...He does not consider that there
might be a character which is indissolubly connected with the piece,
which one must find and bring to life.

I have to accept that Gould's playing can on occasions be revelatory.
But I do not think this is due to psychological understanding, but
rather to chance - the desire to do what is unexpected.

I am not a Rachmaninov fan. The piano repertoire is vast, and
Rachmaninov to me seems a waste of time.

...among [Rachmaninov's] works for piano, above all the piano concertos,
there is nothing that I find captivating, enough to recommend to a young
pianist. Nor has the third piano concerto ever convinced me."

The book is in Q & A format (the questioner is Martin Meyer, literary
editor of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung) and the sections are Life, About
Music, On Performance, On Writing (Brendel has published essays and
poetry), and an Epilogue.

 The book in question is: 

Me of All People: Alfred Brendel in Conversation with Martin Meyer 

by Alfred Brendel
<http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/390865.Alfred_Brendel> , Martin
Meyer <http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/327188.Martin_Meyer> ,
Richard Stokes



PS  There's an interesting 2 dvd documentary "Alfred Brendel: In
Portrait" - visit your local University Library for further details...  


Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2012 15:52:51 -0700
From: boyboy_8 at yahoo.com
To: f_minor at glenngould.org
Subject: [f_minor] Beethoven


On the recent CBC radio Sunday program that Michael Enright did with
Robert Harris, Harris mentioned a CBC recording (many years ago) of GG
playing Beethoven's Tempest piano sonata (#17).  I do believe that the
one I've posted here is part 1 of this sonata.   As Harris explained, GG
often ignored the composer tempo and dynamic markings were in search of
what "the music" was asking for.  This was a curious but I think
accurate insight into GG's mind.  When I hear GG doing this Tempest,
there are several things to look for.  Notice that he is conducting all
the time, breathing with the music as if it was a symphony.   In his
lectures, famous Beethoven specialist Andras Schiff often explains that
Beethoven was first and foremost a symphonist and his sonatas reflect
symphonic architecture reduced to two hands.  This is also correct and
in GG's performance he is approaching the sonata as if it was a
symphony.  Notice as well how he handles the motifs that sound like a
soloist singing a single musical line.  Gould takes extra time to allow
the notes of the motif to rise up in melancholy, expressing such depth
of Beethoven emotion.  The entire movement, for me, is extraordinary and
I cannot remember hearing it done with more pathos and introspection.
Incredible.....and totally unique interpretation.  But again, Gould has
sought to make the music sound fresh and all the while respecting the
meaning that the music has within itself.  


Fred Houpt


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