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Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Glenn Gould

7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 9, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Approaching a 2-CD, 150-plus-minute collection of Glenn Gould's piano playing that has no Bach is befuddling. Gould, though he was expert at dozens of composers' works, is remembered by many for his shattering 1955 reading of Bach's Goldberg Variations, whose spirit is strewn throughout these pieces by Berg, Byrd, Scarlatti, Prokofiev, and others. Gould's short performance career, which ended in 1964--when he was 32--is captured on this collection's earliest recordings: the Haydn and Mozart works (1958)--his Mozart infuriated aficionados--and Berg's Piano Sonata, op. 1.

Gould always seemed to trot rowdily through the most staid works and then turn quickly paced works into taut, nervy splays of tension. Of greatest interest here are the crisp Byrd pieces, most unusual in their solo-piano dressing, and the Scriabin miniatures, which seem emotionally brittle and creatively about to burst. Gould ties, unties, and reties the Prokofiev securely, tightening its chromatic properties and keeping it dancing all the while. Sure, there's not a stitch of Bach here, but the music just makes its point all the more clearly: Gould's unleashing of notes was genius almost without regard to its subject matter. --Andrew Bartlett

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Pavan
  2. Galliard
  3. Fantasy In C
  4. Allemande (Italian Ground)
  5. Hughe Ashton's Ground
  6. Sixth Pavan And Galliard: Pavan
  7. Sixth Pavan And Galliard: Galliard
  8. 'Lord Of Salisbury' Pavan And Galliard: Pavan
  9. 'Lord Of Salisbury' Pavan And Galliard: Galliard
  10. A Voluntary
  11. Selinger's Round
  12. Sonata In D, K. 430 (L. 463)
  13. Sonata In D Minor, K. 9 (L. 413)
  14. Sonata In G, K 13 (L. 486)
  15. Fantasia (Prelude) And Fugue In C, KV 394: Adagio
  16. Fantasia (Prelude) And Fugue In C, KV 394: (Fuga. Andante Maestoso)
  17. Sonata In E Flat, H. XVI:49: Allegro
  18. Sonata In E Flat, H. XVI:49: Adagio E Cantabile
  19. Sonata In E Flat, H. XVI:49: Finale. Tempo Di Menuet

Disc: 2

  1. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  2. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  3. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  4. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  5. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  6. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  7. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  8. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  9. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  10. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  11. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  12. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  13. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  14. Variations chromatiques (de concert)
  15. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  16. Variations Chromatiques (De Concert)
  17. Five Piano Pieces, Op. 3: Andante
  18. Five Piano Pieces, Op. 3: Allegro Vivace Scherzando
  19. Five Piano Pieces, Op. 3: Largo
  20. Five Piano Pieces, Op. 3: Allegro Molto
  21. Five Piano Pieces, Op. 3: Allegro Marcatissimo
  22. 2 Morceaux, Op. 57: Desir
  23. 2 Morceaux, Op. 57: Caresse Dansee
  24. Piano Sonata, Op. 1: Massig Bewegt
  25. Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 83: Allegro inquieto - Andantino
  26. Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 83: Andante Caloroso
  27. Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 83: Percipitato

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 9, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B00000I943
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,714 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on July 30, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Everything from Gould is an event, of one kind or another. There is a popular representation of him as wilful and perverse, and while I can think of certain performances by him that could be described in that way, in general I find far less eccentricity in his playing than I do in Richter's, and absolutely none on these two discs. To support the stereotype of Gould the liner-note quotes some pompous huffiness and puffiness from Brendel, no less, and while I admire Brendel greatly I couldn't help thinking when I read that their dates of birth were little more than a year and a half apart that one main difference between them was that Brendel was born aged 45.

I would guess that the Mozart fantasia and fugue here will be the performance that most divides opinion. It is stern and forceful, and there is far more of my idea of Mozart in it than in a lot of the bijou tinkling I often hear. There is no Bach at all, and for that relief much thanks. Gould's wonderful Bach-playing is easily obtained elsewhere, as Ken Winters says in his excellent liner-note, and this set displays some part of his true range. The early 18th century is represented by three Scarlatti sonatas, a brief but memorable interest of Gould's. He does not try to reproduce the effect of the harpsichord as Horowitz memorably does, and in that respect he more resembles Lipatti and Michelangeli, although I doubt if you would mistake him for either. What I found particularly fascinating was the first 11 tracks on the first disc, a selection of pieces by Byrd and Gibbons, two composers especially dear to my own heart.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By kheinkel on February 23, 2001
Format: Audio CD
There is, apparently, no end to the argument over which pieces should or should not have been included in this recording. But if one looks strictly at what it actually contains, the album provides a pretty thoughtful representation of Gould's non-Bach output and is an interesting compilation of music in its own right.
About half of Disc 1 is devoted to English virginal music by Byrd and Gibbons which Gould identified as some of his favorite music in the keyboard literature. The Scarlatti pieces are full of sparkle and imagination, and suggest that Gould might have become one of the greatest interpreters of Scarlatti's sonatas if only he had recorded more of it. So compelling is his take on the ones in D major and G major that they may never again be equalled. The Mozart Prelude and Fugue in C major is right up Gould's alley, and does quite an admirable job of filling in by proxy for the missing Bach works that previous reviewers lamented. The Haydn sonata that rounds out Disc 1 was performed toward the beginning of Gould's career at Columbia Records and stands in stark contrast, interpretatively speaking, to his re-recording of the same piece at the very end of his life.
Disc 2 begins with Bizet's Chromatic Variations, a rather anachronistic piece in Gould's discography because it provides a rare glimpse of Gould-as-virtuoso, replete with thundering octaves and shimmering scales. Richard Strauss was a composer whose piano works were championed by Gould against popular opinion, and whose music was - like that of Byrd and Gibbons - very dear to Gould's heart. The Scriabin pieces are beautifully sculpted, suggesting once again the unrealized potential in that particular slice of keyboard literature.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Most of you have probably heard of Glenn Gould as the eccentric and brilliant Bach re-vitalizer. A listener typically gets seduced or disgusted by his playing, but never leaves anyone untouched. Recently he was voted among the top ten most influentional classical performers of the 20th century, and his ideas of the performer's role and musical wizardry has always made him very popular among musicians. Many are those pianists of our generation that have Glenn as their absolute idol. Before his landmark record of the Goldbergs Variations in 1955, Bach wasn't really considererd a serious part of the piano repertoire. It is therefore confusing and dissapointing to see that in this series so far none of his more famous interpretations, be it Bach, Beethoven, Brahms or Schoenberg are included on this record! Reading about the recording in the series sampler leaflet lets you believe that contractual quarrel stopped the publication of his most popular works. I guess Sony valued their gems too dearly. I advice anyone who is interested in getting to know Gould to instead buy the "32 Short Stories about Glenn Gould record". Still his Byrd, Scarlatti, Scriabin and Mozart on this CD are wonderful, but if you are a Gould fan on that level, you probably own those records anyway.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mooph Magjik on January 11, 2007
Format: Audio CD
If you only eat steak, this would be chicken; if you want to rock out with your Bach out, cease and desist with the pretentious whining and find practically any other Gould recording, which will undoubtedly have plenty of beefy Bachian goodness. Giving this compilation a one star rating for failing to be redundant is daftness incarnate, especially considering that no one would buy a Glenn Gould record without being knowledgable about classical music in general, as well as Gould's neurosis, biases, and, most importantly, his expertise in interpreting Bach. In knowing that (and being intelligent enough to read the track listing), one ought to conclude that this record is a unique opportunity to sample many other composers, composers as varied as his methods of differentiating both between them and in the midst of their particular works. In fact, if someone were to complain about something not being on these recordings, I think Gould's Beethoven was sorely neglected, but personally I'd love to have had more Scriabin (the two wonderful but short pieces leave me begging for more). But this record shouldn't be trashed because of the omissions, or the previous reviewers having had guns put to their heads, coerced to purchase a Bach-less Gould recording (Oh!! *yawn*, the horror!). There is ample contrast, even if only considering Strauss's Five Piano Pieces, and the Berg and Prokofiev piano sonatas (the latter of which is worth the price of the CD alone, given Gould's excellent exploitation of it's innately rhythmic nature, and his pacing and clarity), but especially so given the renaissance and classical music of the first disc, which is as good of an introduction to Gibbons and Byrd as I can think of.Read more ›
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