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Glenn Gould

Legendary pianists, by whom the art of music has been developed
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Glenn Gould

Postby juufa72 » 25 Jan 2006, 23:01

I am unfamiliar with him except with his Haydn's Last 6 Sonatas. Which are pretty damn good.

What do you think of him?
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Postby citrine_peridot » 26 Jan 2006, 19:05

his Bach are way better...

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Postby Jeliness2 » 26 Jan 2006, 19:29

His bach is so wonderful, but his beethoven doesn't float my boat.
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Postby juufa72 » 26 Jan 2006, 20:11

Why does he look like a cripple in the photographs of him playing?

i.e. http://www.perfectpitchpeople.com/gould.gif
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Postby Goldberg » 26 Jan 2006, 21:13

lol, he sat like that for a few reasons, from what I can remember (I read a biography on him, the one by Ostwald if the name's correct, it's very good). His primary teacher, who I think was an Arrau student, told him that having the arms absolutely parallel to the keys was essential in order to produce a good tone, which was to be created from the fingers pulling the keys down (and Gould obviously focuses a ton of his energy into his fingers, which creates an outstanding clarity and occasionally harsh tone, which suits Baroque and atonal music very well). This posture was improved by sitting on an unusually low chair crafted by his father, as well as proping the piano up on wooden blocks, also made especially by his dad (he used the same chair and blocks through his entire career, and if you see pictures of him near the end of his life, you see that the chair is completely worn down).

One reason for why he hunched over so low is because when he was in his early teens (or maybe earlier) he fell off something and hit his back funny on the ground, causing some sort of misalignment for when he started growing--I can't remember any of the medical details, but it was, as I remember, more of a theory that Gould sat hunched over because it was more comfortable for his back. The other answer is probably simply that he was eccentric and performed music in a very unique manner--that at least explains the crossed legs, as far as I can tell.

I'm really a huge fan of Gould, especially of his Baroque (and some pre-Baroque) and 20th Century recordings, but I also like certain qualities of his infamous Beethoven and Mozart recordings. Everything he did was extremely individual, yet at the same time it tended to make a lot of sense, at least as I see it, either in a serious, musical way, or in a comical way, both of which seem equally frequent. He's one of the few pianists who could actually embed his own intelligent (sometimes inside) jokes about the music he played, within the actual recordings, especially if he didn't like the piece he was playing. Some pianists play such pieces with flatness or unoriginality, but Gould took a different stance and tried to show his audience the "real" side of the piece he played, or rather how boring the piece was on its own, and yet at the same time his recordings are so unique that it's impossible to ignore them. The Appasionata recording is a good example of that. Gould hated any sort of indulgence of the composer in melodrama or overly-Romantic feelings, and sought to flatten such pieces out with a strict, contrapunctal (or at least precise) method, to show how lacking they were in musical quality.

I'm not saying I always agree with Gould (in fact, I rarely do), or that I'm really smart enough to understand him or his interpretations all the time, but I'm still very fascinated by his character both as a person and as a musician, and to top it off, he had a phenomenal technique with which to implement his ideas. I tend to think of him as a John Cage, only without the obnoxious attempts at making us think about music differently by performing bizarre experiments on stage--Gould did it with real, pre-existing music.
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Postby lol_nl » 04 Feb 2006, 11:22

I like his Bach recordings. He is a genious at polyfony but Beethoven wouldn't fit with him :).

I general I think he was a real genious who gave new ideas to performing Bach.
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Postby beethoven » 24 Aug 2006, 09:05

lol_nl wrote:I like his Bach recordings. He is a genious at polyfony but Beethoven wouldn't fit with him :).

I general I think he was a real genious who gave new ideas to performing Bach.


I'm not a big fan of his beethoven or Mozart. But the fugue in Hammerklavier.... :roll:
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Postby MorrisseyMan » 14 Sep 2006, 18:25

Glenn Gould's Bach is perfect. Each individual voice in a fugue is so clear, it hard to imagine him only having two hands :P

However, his Mozart is very different. Listening to him playing the second movement of the oh-so-famous C Major Sonata (The "Facile") is very different from other pianists. He plays it very staccato, whilst other pianists play it legato and, the greatest sin of all, with rubato. However, if you look at the music, sure enough, the left hand is staccato, and the right hand is also marked stacatto in some parts. He followed the composer's directions to the letter, with little thought to any interpretation to what came before.

I think that is what made him such a genius pianist.
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