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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An historical quirk: Gould plays Goldbergs live., January 19, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Glenn Gould Live in Salzburg & Moscow: Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (from Salzburg Festival, 1959); Three-Part Inventions, BWV 788-801 (from Moscow, 1957) (Audio CD)
Glenn Gould's name is invariably associated with firstly the Goldberg Variations, and secondly with his retirement from public performance. Here, however, we hear him playing the Goldbergs live, at the Salzburg Festival in the late 1950s. The recording's sound quality is very good, and the performance itself lies somewhere between the brazen race of the 1955 recording and the aged contemplation of the 1981. But the clarity of the lines is unmistakably Gouldian, and anyone interested in Gould ought to own this historical quirk, a live Goldbergs. The Inventions are also live but unfortunately are severely let down by very poor sound quality.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glenn Gould live... sensational !, February 22, 2006
By 
Antonia Brentano (Leiden, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Glenn Gould Live in Salzburg & Moscow: Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (from Salzburg Festival, 1959); Three-Part Inventions, BWV 788-801 (from Moscow, 1957) (Audio CD)
Out of curiosity I bought this disc. I already own the 1955 and 1981 recording of the Goldberg variations, which are both legendary for good reason.
But then this recording! What a drive, what a rhythm! Compared to the 1955 recording, I feel it is somewhat more lyrical, some of the tempi are somewhat less extreme. The technical command and concentration are unbelievable. Well, I won't analyze it any more, you just HAVE TO listen to this disc!
The recording sound of the Goldberg variations is surprisingly good. The recording sound of the inventions is not so good, but I have heard worse.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I prefer Gould's Goldberg live to his earlier studio session, February 14, 2014
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This review is from: Glenn Gould Live in Salzburg & Moscow: Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (from Salzburg Festival, 1959); Three-Part Inventions, BWV 788-801 (from Moscow, 1957) (Audio CD)
Glenn Gould famously retired from the stage in 1964 and thereafter only presented his performances through recordings. This is the first live music by Gould I have encountered and am surprised to be writing this: it looks like the master pianist made a big mistake.

This valuable disc contains two independent live recordings of JS Bach, the Goldberg Variations done in Salzburg in 1959 and the Three-part Inventions done in Moscow in 1957, where Gould was the first North American to play since the war, during the post-Stalin loosening of Soviet restrictions.

The Goldberg Variations are a delight. They are close in general approach to the famous and career-making 1955 studio debut Gould had made 4 years earlier, but they have a looseness and improvisatorial feeling that adds even more zest to the interpretation. Gould is clearly willing to experiment, with changes in emphasis and tone color. Again, this is strange to be writing, but Gould sounds like one of these exceptional and unusual musicians who is as comfortable on stage as off. (Artur Rubinstein is another. In his memoirs, he wrote that he always played better on stage than in practice because the audience invigorated him.) Anyway, this Goldberg set is wonderful. It may be the best recording of this work Gould left. What's more, the audio quality, with very few audience sounds, is better than the 1955 recording.

The 1957 Moscow recording of the 15 Three-part Inventions is often very beautiful. Recorded sound is poorer than the Salzburg concert. Gould's interpretations can be wayward here, a tendency which intensified in later years and has led me to avoid his later recordings. The 15th invention, in f minor, is an example, with a glacial tempo and precious tone color effects. I understand the appeal of this particular track - writing about it makes me want to spin it again, certainly the ultimate critical recommendation - but it points to the self-indulgent eccentricity Gould displayed in some later playing, like his exasperating performance of Beethoven's Op. 2 no. 3 sonata. But I digress. The Inventions here are sometimes played willfully but there is great beauty in many of them.

This disc is a must for Gould fans out there. It seems to fly below the radar as something of a curiosity, but shouldn't. The Goldberg Variations are great (Great!) and the Inventions are very good. An outstanding release.
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Glenn Gould Live in Salzburg & Moscow: Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (from Salzburg Festival, 1959); Three-Part Inventions, BWV 788-801 (from Moscow, 1957)
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