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 Post subject: Glenn Gould
PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 6:45 pm 
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Well, we must have a topic of probably the most excentric and original pianist ever. Retired at 32 and dedicated himself to make recordings which nowadays are extremely famous. Especially his WTK I & II and Goldberg Variations.

I have always felt a very unique tension in his recordings that creates an extreme presence and beauty. Like he puts in his entire soul everytime he struck a note. Terrible that he only became 50 and died 1982. He could mind as well been alive today and I cannot help wonder what he would have done with all the technique available. Probably something like John Grant did with the WTK I.

Also, his technique is underrated. He was extremely fast when he wanted to and played in a very difficult way when he kind of half staccatod the keys which means that every single change in velocity, tempo or slip will be heard twice as much. I have a DVD (The Alchemsist, perhaps the most famous video) where you hear him playing Chopin's op.10 no.2 in the background when he drives the car from a private recording. Extremely fast!

I guess everyone has a view of Gould. Share :).

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 4:32 am 
He's good to listen to: I particularly like his Liszt Beethoven Symphony Transcriptions. But watching him is a different matter. I rented a few DVD's of his and wished I hadn't. It's just not pleasant watching him because of his incessant need to let his jaw move up and down in a spasm, obviously because he's keeping beats. What is with these pro pianists who must be vocal metronomes? Serkin did it, Lang Lang does it, and Gould couldn't stop it.

I don't know... just makes it harder for me to take a pianist seriously or soak myself into the performance when pianists do that kind of thing. Imagine if Chopin did that during a polonaise, you know? Or Liszt during an operatic fantasy?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 2:04 pm 
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Hexameron wrote:
He's good to listen to: I particularly like his Liszt Beethoven Symphony Transcriptions. But watching him is a different matter. I rented a few DVD's of his and wished I hadn't. It's just not pleasant watching him because of his incessant need to let his jaw move up and down in a spasm, obviously because he's keeping beats. What is with these pro pianists who must be vocal metronomes? Serkin did it, Lang Lang does it, and Gould couldn't stop it.

I don't know... just makes it harder for me to take a pianist seriously or soak myself into the performance when pianists do that kind of thing. Imagine if Chopin did that during a polonaise, you know? Or Liszt during an operatic fantasy?

I doubt he keeps beat or even needed to. He is extremely beat steady. Rather, he almost goes into trance when he played and let his entire soul connect to his hands producing the music. He put in so much energy and did not care at all if he looked funny or made strange moves. It was the music that was important. He actually did not care much about anything else.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:44 pm 
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I just watched a few videos of him on You Tube. It is like his entire body, soul, and mind becomes one with the music. He is indeed a great pianist. Have you seen how low he sits at the piano? I wonder how or why he develped that posture. I guess it's a matter of "whatever works". It certainly works for him.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:12 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
I just watched a few videos of him on You Tube. It is like his entire body, soul, and mind becomes one with the music. He is indeed a great pianist. Have you seen how low he sits at the piano? I wonder how or why he develped that posture. I guess it's a matter of "whatever works". It certainly works for him.

Oh yes indeed have I noticed his low posture. Not something I could recommend to anyone and I have tried it at a very low children's chair I have in my son's room. Feels terrible.
He did carry his own "travel" chair along with him for rectials which looks like it would break anytime. Worn out and ribbs missing. He said in an interview "Without it, I cannot operate".

I think he developed the low posture in an early age where he could not reach up properly and it just got a habit. Only advantage I can think of is that you get very close to your fingers which might add some control. Wonder how he ever was able to read a score on a grand.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:17 am 
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I have not really heard enough of Gould's recordings to have a well-founded opinion. In his early career he championed off-beat repertoire like the Strauss Sonata and the Sibelius Kylykki. I remember hearing his Prokofiev 7th sonata which was very impressive, especially the driving last movement.

As for his Bach, few can ever match his absolute mastery, clarity, and lucidity. Yet I always felt he was busy point-making rather than making music. Clinically dissecting the music, rather than living and breathing it. And with too many quirky habits and a too strong preoccupation to be 'different' (not unlike some latter-day pianists like Mustonen and Pletnev). To me, Gould was a musician more respected and admired than loved, and I feel the same about his recordings. I am sure this is courting controversy 8)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:50 pm 
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I do not think he tried to be different but purely was different. I do not believe he made up his pose or interpretations and acted a clever showman to gain popularity or at least point out. I think he was different from the very start. He had a very rough time in school and was picked on so his mother took him out of ordinary school in an early age and then put him in the conservatory in Toronto at the age of 10.

And at last, my theory, which I am not alone having, is that Gould suffered from Aspgerger's Syndrome. I will quote the typical syndrom below.
Quote:
Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see. It's important to remember that the person with AS perceives the world very differently. Therefore, many behaviors that seem odd or unusual are due to those neurological differences and not the result of intentional rudeness or bad behavior, and most certainly not the result of "improper parenting".

By definition, those with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or talent in a specific area. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like "little professors." However, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context.

Source: Barbara L. Kirby
Founder of the OASIS Web site (www.aspergersyndrome.org)
Co-author of THE OASIS GUIDE TO ASPERGER SYNDROME (Crown, 2001, Revised 2005)


It fits very well to Gould...as well as Einstein and other people regarded as genius or having an extreme skill in a specific area.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:57 pm 
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I like his Bach. I love his Bach. His Bach is great. The clarity in his playing, his amazing technique, everything suits Bach. Sometimes he lets me think that he is playing harpsichord instead of piano.

But except his Bach I don't really like his other recordings. His Mozart is sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow, and played very dry, without any expression, I get the impression. He didn't like Mozart and said he died rather too late than too early, maybe he just wanted to make the people clear that Mozart is boring in his opinion.

Furthermore he chooses some strange repetoire. Strange guy he was, but wounderful music.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:30 am 
Gould is a pianist who is very close to my heart as I am Canadian, live in the same city Gould was born, raised, and died in (Toronto), and recall listening a great deal to his recordings of Bach when I was only a beginner, and I still enjoy listening to them today.

He was a very controversial artist, in almost every way possible. His views on interpretation, his opinions about performance, his ideas about the role the pianist should have in the music, and even the way he played was all completely off the scales (no piano-playing pun was intended there, seriously).

Above all its his interpretations of Bach that I love the most. With most other composers he was prone to great eccentricities that while don't make his playing any less brilliant does make it not sit well with my tastes. Its not that he couldn't play, say, Chopin or Beethoven or Mozart well, he just decided to play it his way.

But to anyone who has never heard Gould's playing, I don't see how you could call yourself a lover of piano music and have never heard Gould play Bach, so as soon as you can get his recording of Goldberg Variations. The 1981 version is the one I prefer (he made his recording debut with the very same work in 1955), and I think most others would agree with me that it is overall a better interpretation. It was the first recording I ever heard of Gould, and I think its the best place to start for someone wanting to become acquainted with Gould's playing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:37 pm 
robert wrote:
Oh yes indeed have I noticed his low posture. Not something I could recommend to anyone and I have tried it at a very low children's chair I have in my son's room. Feels terrible.
He did carry his own "travel" chair along with him for rectials which looks like it would break anytime. Worn out and ribbs missing. He said in an interview "Without it, I cannot operate".

I think he developed the low posture in an early age where he could not reach up properly and it just got a habit. Only advantage I can think of is that you get very close to your fingers which might add some control. Wonder how he ever was able to read a score on a grand.


Actually that low posture was brought on by his teacher. His teacher had everyone sit like that for a while at least. (The teacher occasionally switched styles.) None of that teacher's students did anything great except for Gould, so I don't think it's a very good technique compared to Lhevinne's technique, say, who had many great students. Gould's Bach is great, but not his other recordings. I think he was able to make Bach clean sounding because of his technique which relys on the fingers. Also, I believe that he had Auspergers syndrome. Sounds about right. Anyhow, he had something. I mean, he was too eccentric not to have something. :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:11 am 
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No matter what your opinion of Gould, you can't say he didn't play exactly what he intended. He was in perfect control.

Pete


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:56 pm 
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PJF wrote:
No matter what your opinion of Gould, you can't say he didn't play exactly what he intended. He was in perfect control.

Pete
Yes and in many ways in better control than Michelangeli for example who always preferred safety before exciting interpretations. Have you heard his personal recording of Chopin's 10/2 from when he was 16 years old? Fastest ever and still in perfect control and with every key perfectly audible.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:46 am 
hmmm yes...doesnt he sing when he plays? whats with that? though i guess i do like his bach..sortof...though sometimes his singing is slightly distracting :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:54 pm 
He controlled everything except for the singing. :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:12 pm 
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His recording of the E flat minor Fugue is funny :lol: .

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