Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (The Historic 1955 Debut Recording) Original recording remastered
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Now, I certainly believe that Landowska's rendition is the most well informed, and even the most revolutionary in terms of true period correctness (she was the first to record it for the harpsichord and with correct baroque ornamentation), and she had a musicality that made the listener believe they were listening to an orchestra instead of just a single keyboardist. Tureck's interpretation is so dancelike and pleasant. It sounds so free and happy, I get the image that there are dancers on the keys of her piano. She was really the one that showed that the Goldberg Variations could be performed on a piano without reverting to the overly romanticized versions that had dominated up to that time.
It was Landowska and Tureck two that allowed for what is arguably the most famous interpretation of the Goldbergs: Glenn Gould's 1955 recording.Read more ›
If you are new to Glenn Gould, just remember that even now, twenty years after his death, his work remains controversial. Everyone agrees that he was a masterful pianist, one of the best ever, but many people just don't like his eccentric approach to Bach. They find the fast parts too fast, and slow is too slow. In the 1981 version, many object to Gould's tuneless humming in the background. Eccentric? You bet. But nobody else could even get away with it. "That nut is a genius," as Szell was once heard to quip.
Anyone who finds Gould too eccentric, or perverse, should try Angela Hewitt or Rosalyn Tureck. I love their versions of Goldberg Variations too! Rosalyn Tureck spent her entire career of about 60 years studying Bach, and recorded Goldberg Variations at least three times. All are excellent. Angela Hewitt is just masterful, and plays with sheer devotion.
Gould made an incisive breakthrough and showed that the formality and the Dionysian spirit may habit together, without those bitter presumptions or austere poses.
He impregnated the Goldberg variations with Mediterranean jubilee, effusiveness and radiant greenness. And this posture influenced a whole generation in all fields.
So those Goldberg carry on its own trademark. A historical reference by all accounts.
Indispensable collection piece.
He summed it up well in his own criticism of the seminal Variation 25 on this disc, by saying it sounds like he was playing a Chopin Nocturne. He found the 1955 performance "wears its heart on it sleeve" and has too many clever emotional cues delivered by the pianist.
I also find that the use of the sustain pedal in the 1955 gives a muddy and indistinct sound, especially in the fast runs -- Gould did not use the sustain pedal at all in the 1981, just the soft pedal. This gives more of a clipped, harpsichord-type sound that I greatly preferred (and I'm not a huge harpsichord fan in general).
But most of all, I'd just ask why get this version alone, when "A State of Wonder" has both the 1955 and 1981, and a nearly hour-long interview with Gould himself about the recordings?
I would warmly recommend that full set over this disc alone. Even if you love the 1955, you still get it in the other set -- along with some bonus 1955 outtakes not featured here. You also get the opportunity to examine the changing perspective of a brilliant artist over time. That offers a much fuller experience than the 1955 recordings alone as featured here.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Listening to Gould play is like listening to a machine. But a machine with feeling and purity of emotion. Does he ever make a mistake while playing???Published on July 15, 2014 by Xrahdio
I listen to this CD a lot. Very relaxing and great as background music at home or in the car, or upon more attentive listening.Published on February 17, 2014 by KwQd
I love it because I treasure Bach's and Gould's work of art. Of course, I would have liked a better leaflet and better presentation in general but the contents are wonderful and... Read morePublished on June 17, 2013 by Lilianna G.
I love the Goldberg variations and Glen Gould's performance is astounding. This is a classic record that any music lover should own.Published on June 11, 2013 by ACE
This is a flamboyant performance of the Goldberg Variations. They are too fast and occasionally the loudness and softness of the piano is utilized, which is not available on the... Read morePublished on November 8, 2012 by A.M.Y.
The clarity of the performance by Gould is astounding. Gould's touch is light and precise and conjures up the harpsichord for which this music was written.Published on September 22, 2012 by Marina
Interviewing a musician on my blog recently (Steve Poltz) about his musical influences threw up some great new music for me to try. Read morePublished on June 10, 2011 by Spider Monkey