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The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould Plays Bach (1981)

Glenn Gould , Bruno Monsaingeon  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Glenn Gould
  • Directors: Bruno Monsaingeon
  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (PCM Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Dubbed: French, German
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Classics
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2007
  • Run Time: 58 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000050IL0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,243 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Bonus video
  • Selected discography
  • Photo gallery

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Prepared, shot, and edited over a period of five years from 1976 to 1981, the three-part series Glenn Gould Plays Bach has so far only been seen via the limited parameters of television transmission. Now, for the first time, this testment is made available with a sound and picture reporduction faithful to our original conception. Glenn Gould's first recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations in 1955 had made his name legendary. This film, shot in New York in April and May 1981, marks his life--as if interpolated between the two peaceful Arias and the two recordings, the one opening, the other closing his career--with a symbol of cyclic perfection. 58 minutes.

Product Description

A Film by Bruno Monsaingeon

Pianist Glenn Gould made his New York debut on January 11, 1955. His first recording, Bach's "Goldberg Variations," took place that June. The record won instant acclaim. In 1981 Gould departed from his custom of not re-recording a work and, 26 years after his first recording of the "Goldberg Variations," went into the same New York studio for his second recording of the work. Gould viewed the two interpretations as substantially different. This new recording won two Grammy Awards.

The Glenn Gould Collection:
Prepared, shot and edited over a period of five years from 1976 to 1981, the three-part series Glenn Gould Plays Bach has so far only been seen via the limited parameters of television transmission. Now, for the first time, this testament is made available with a sound and picture reproduction faithful to the original conception.
Glenn Gould's first recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations in 1955 had made his name legendary. This film, shot in New York in April 1981, marks his life - as if interpolated between the two peaceful Arias and the two recordings, the one opening, the other closing his career - with a symbol of cyclic perfections (Bruno Monsaingeon)

Introduction: Glenn Gould in conversation with Bruno Monsaingeon

Goldberg Variations, BW 988 . Aria with Divers Variation for the Harpsichord with Two Manuals

Glenn Gould, Piano

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Bach would be stunned March 25, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I had long been an admirer of the audio CD of Gould's Goldberg. One can easily hear the genius at work. But seeing Gould in all his wackiness perched on his beat-up lucky chair conducting the right hand with the left and humming along makes the genius so much more real. To call this performance flawless is the least complimentary thing I can say. He has spoiled the Goldberg for generations of future artists who can only watch and admire. I consider this to be among the top five instrumental performances I have ever heard.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not hesitate. Get it. October 14, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
"This cannot be", said a famous conductor after viewing this performance. I thought the same thing after watching it too! Do not buy anything else untill you get this next. It's Gould up close for about an hour in the studio on a Yamaha grand piano. It's the most astonishing display of piano virtuosity I've ever seen. Gould worked very hard to produce this video and it was a very demanding task to complete. We are very fortunate that is was completed before Gould died about a year later.
Very well produced and edited. This is how I wish all pianists were filmed- long close up shots of the hands on the piano. The audio is stereo and I highly recommend watching this video on a stereo VCR with headphones. You will feel like you are in the room with Gould. You can hear everything including chair noises, piano sqeeks, etc.. These noises are infrequent and do not interfere with the music but actually add to the whole experience. If you don't like Gould's humming, surprisingly, he hums very quietly here.
Bach wrote this masterpiece for double manual harpsichord and this gave Bach the ability to write this great music with long phrases where two hands can pass over each other and not bump together (as they would on a single manual keyboard). That's why only the best pianists attempt to play this work- the two hands 'bump' into each other on a single keyboard. You'll see how Gould manages this difficult task with apparent ease in a dazzling display of virtuosity. And you'll also see why the keyboard cover on the piano was removed to facilitate the hands crossing over each other.
This is one of Gould's most succesfull accomplishments. It's one of Bach's most enduring masterpieces. Do not hesitate. Get it.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning January 18, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A friend of mine once gave me a copy of Gould's performance of the Golberg Variations to listen to on CD. He said, "listen to it twice -- you won't like it the first time, but listen again and it will become your favorite." He was right. I later realized that upon the first listening it was difficult to make sense of the individual parts of this piece. But after you have a sense of the whole, you can begin to appreciate its complex beauty.
On this DVD, Glenn Gould himself explains that he decided to re-record the piece precisely to emphasize the connection between each of the parts in the Goldberg Variations. The result is remarkable, both in terms of sound quality and the camera movements. The disc contains sound in both PCM stereo and Dolby Digital stereo. Sony did a superb job in making you forget this masterpiece was recorded 20 years ago. And you can't watch Gould play without being drawn yourself into his passion for the music. If you enjoy Bach, this is a must buy.
One nitpick: the extras on this disc are pathetic. You get about 5 minutes worth of interviews with Gould himself, and some on-screen biographical text -- merely glorified liner notes. But this disc isn't about the extras. Let's hope Sony releases more Gould DVDs!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An elegant and superb performance. June 10, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
In clear contrast to his 1955 recording, Glenn Gould brings a new look at Bach's Goldberg Variations by giving the listener more noble and stately tempi, while commenting via his interpretations on the "30 remarkable variations with a truly unremarkable ground bass theme...from which they are all formed and to which they all conform." Gould, in complete command of his abilities, presents the Goldberg Variations as a unified whole, as opposed to "30 somewhat single-minded pieces." As an unwavering devotee of contrapuntal music, the Goldberg Variations present Bach's unearthly talent for "...passionate aestheticism, and youthful exhibitionism." The Goldberg Variations give the performer and listener "...snapshots, randomly filed,..." which show Bach's genius through the years of his life. Glenn Gould supervised the camera work during the recording, which is evident in the camera catching the hands play at just the appropriate place, an ability sorely missing in classical videos. With this video recording, Glenn Gould returns to perform the work which granted him worldwide acclaim. In short, a remarkable compressed portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach and his arguably greatest interpreter, Glenn Gould.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime December 19, 2001
By A Customer
Format:DVD
My father bought a vinyl copy of the CBS Masterworks recording of this same performance when I was in high school. A taped copy of this served me admirably in college in the late '80s, making my study time that much more structured and productive. After absconding with my father's record, I was later able to buy it on CD. I still have the record, though...
Imagine my surprise and unfettered delight when I learned that the recording sessions for this now-timeless masterpiece were actually recorded on film. This happened to me in the mid-90's, when I saw this film at the American Film Institute theatre at the Kennedy Center. There on the screen, in the same studios where Kind of Blue was recorded, was the vision to go with those sounds that had become a part of me. It was like being blind for years and all of a sudden being given the gift of sight.
And now, this is available on a DVD. Who gives a damn about what extras there are. The Aria, 30 variations, and Aria are all there and you get to SEE Glenn Gould perform them!! What else of such great value could you ever hope to acquire for such a small price...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould Plays Bach
One of my best DVD purchases ever; how lucky the world is that Glenn Gould and Bruno Monsaingeon have left us with a video recording of this monumental work, the Goldberg... Read more
Published 2 months ago by tanetaori
1.0 out of 5 stars This should be deleted.
This should be deleted immediately. It is now available as part of a cheaper 3-dvd set, which includes two other Bruno M films:... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Value Man
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD info
Edit: This has been re-released in a 3-DVD box set Gould Plays Bach. The current DVD is the third of the three.

Amazon webpage has numerous errors about this DVD. Read more
Published 21 months ago by H. Ping H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Moment of Recording History
How can i write, How can i describe my feelings.

One man spending his whole life through music, became music itself, and another man, after 250 years later, spent all... Read more
Published on January 12, 2009 by Nejat BROH
5.0 out of 5 stars Divine!
Let me begin by saying that the Goldberg Variations are somewhat of an acquired taste. Very few appreciate the Variations on the first listen... Read more
Published on September 30, 2008 by Jeff Pollack
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Wonderful Document
An incredible DVD. Watch this and you will believe in magic. Simply incredible.
Published on August 28, 2008 by M. R. Sheffield
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential!
Not only every pianist, but every musician must have this video. I think is a very important document to see a perfect mix between the pure baroque style and simultaneously a... Read more
Published on February 28, 2008 by Ivan Gonzalez Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars A lonly island DVD!
WOW!this is really,really something.If you decided some day to live in lonely island or in an other world,you absolutely have to get this DVD. Read more
Published on October 9, 2007 by Tomasz Kulakowski
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best!
There really is not anything I can say that has not already been said. So, I will simply say that this DVD is sooooo worth this small price. Glenn Gould was such an amazing talent. Read more
Published on September 18, 2007 by Dan D. Mish
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Goldberg
We are fortunate to count three Goldberg's recorded by Gould. It is quite astonishing to watch this rendition compared to his earlier 1955 recording which most critics seem to call... Read more
Published on March 18, 2007 by James O. Davis
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