Glenn Gould: The Complete Original Jacket Collection - Amazon.com Exclusive Box set, Limited Edition
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The Glenn Gould Complete Jacket Collection" is presented to mark the brilliant pianist's 75th birthday and the 25th anniversary of his death. It is a fascinating, limited edition: all the artist's LP recordings in the "look and feel" of the original vinyl discs on 80 CDs.
The Canadian Glenn Gould (born in Toronto 25 September 1932 - died there 4 October 1982) was without doubt one of the most important pianists of all time. Even today, the idiosyncratic interpretations and the eccentric personality of the "James Dean of the piano" exert a continuing fascination.
In good time to commemorate the artist's birth 75 years ago on 25 September and his death 25 years ago on 4 October 2007, the Sony Classical label is launching a special project in honour of the double anniversary: "The Glenn Gould Complete Jacket Collection" transfers all the artist's recordings for LP on to 78 CDs, from Glenn Gould's legendary 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations to piano works by Richard Strauss released posthumously on 4 April 1984, and of course, not one of the brilliant artist's legendary Bach recordings is missed out.
Each of the 60 single and 9 double CDs consists of the exact recordings as first issued on vinyl and looks like a miniaturised form of the original disc: the CDs are in cardboard slipcases in the original design, and the CD itself is designed to look like a LP.
Supplemented by two bonus CDs, the limited "Glenn Gould Complete Jacket Collection" comprises 80 CDs mounted in a high-quality display case with a booklet of more than 240 pages. This booklet contains a new, detailed essay by the German Gould specialist Michael Stegemann on Glenn Gould and the LP recording era along with texts and repertoire details to all recordings in the edition, plus a listing and depiction of the records with reissue dates for repertoire that has appeared before.
The bonus CDs include the last great interview that Glenn Gould gave the American journalist Tim Page in 1981 and an essay on Johann Sebastian Bach and the fugue that Gould recorded in 1972 for a bonus LP. They also feature a number of late recordings that never appeared on vinyl: fragments of the "Italian Album" and Wagner's Siegfried Idyll in its orchestral version -- Gould's recording debut as conductor and his last recording of all, made on 8 September 1982 with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Another rarity is Gould's own film music to George Roy Hill's Slaughterhouse Five from 1972.
Top customer reviews
On the basis of my sampling so far (about one-third of the total set), I can say that the remasterings are good, and in fact sound uncannily like the original LPs. My guess is that the producers of this edition thought that for the sake of maximum nostalgia value they ought to return as much as possible to the sound that listeners recall from those Columbia vinyl discs of old. Hence, there is a good deal more tape hiss and other "surface noise" on these tracks than in some of the more heavily doctored (e.g., filtered) reissues of the past decade or so. And of course the by now infamous Disc Thirty-Seven has a prominent burst of white noise at the beginning of Track 30 and some tracking problems elsewhere. Also the bands that separate tracks are absurdly short--almost as if the producers wanted the entire set to sound like one vast cycle of variations on the Goldberg "Aria" from track 1 of the first disc (a fascinating conception, but I somehow don't think it was intended)! So be prepared to lurch from one piece to another, and often from one idiom to another, with only a breath intervening.
No matter; this is still an essential set for the Gould-intoxicated. It may well call for a revision of critical opinion, too, as listeners take the long pilgrimage from 1955 to 1982 with this troubled but transcendental genius.
Just don't give away all of your previous Gould CDs; you may find that you prefer the sound quality (and longer band separations) on those which have been released in recent years, and which have undergone more substantial digital retouching than this new "integral edition."
Glenn Gould is undisputedly one of the great pianists of the recorded era, particularly when performing the works of Bach, and this set basically includes every album he ever released. This is part of Sony's "Original Jacket" series, which is distinguished by straight reissues of albums originally issued during the vinyl era, in exact (but smaller) replicas of the original issue. Luckily for us, Gould recorded exclusively for Columbia (now Sony), so there were no licensing issues. The mastering here is excellent, and sounds like, essentially, flat transfers of the original recorded programs. Given that Columbia's classical division was home to many very skilled producers and engineers, a flat transfer is all that is required.
There's no need to go over the performances here. There is ample documentation of Gould's life and music on the Web. But one point is worth noting: Unlike most classical pianists, Gould preferred the studio to live performance. As a result, in 1964 he retired from the touring circuit and devoted the remainder of his career to studio performances. That means that his (studio) recorded works represent close to the entirety of his career and that his tremendous reputation is based almost entirely on the music represented on these CDs.
There is almost too much music here to digest in any resonable amount of time, but even if you start by only picking and choosing among your favorites, it won't take long to fully justify the price of the entire 80 CD (!!!!) collection. It would be difficult to select discs in this set that WOULDN'T be worth full retail price if sold on their own. The nice book that accompanies the set is a bonus.
This collection is a must for any fan of Gould (which means almost any fan of classical piano).
Gould's interpretations are controversial. Some detest his singing along with his playing. Others think he is too mannered, too idiosyncratic in his interpretations, still others regard him as too romantic, especially in his Bach.
However, more than anyone except perhaps Wanda Landowska, he is responsible for the revival of interest in the keyboard music of Bach. Yes, there are other superb interpreters of Bach, among which I particularly like Rosilyn Tureck. But if fascinating insights are your cup of tea, you must own and listen to Gould's Bach.
I also find his Beethoven, especially the late sonatas, to be insightful and revelatory.
This collection provides the entire discography of Gould's Columbia/CBS/Sony studio performances. Yes, I already own many of these performances grouped differently in various iterations and rereleases. Yes, it is sometimes easier to listen to other pressings that combine the works of the same composer into a multi-disc set.
But for those of us who grew up in the LP vinyl era, seeing the original covers replicated and having a chance to reread original album notes is a pleasure not to be passed up.
Amazon has made this set available at an extremely attractive price and in a very well done package. I congratulate them and thank them.
I strongly recommend lovers of the art of keyboard, and especially those like myself who appreciate the insights of Glenn Gould, to buy this set.
Most recent customer reviews
This set is now over-priced and obsolete.
Yet I don't know how to describe it. Maybe that's the provence of the music in this set.Read more