DONATION STATUS
Needed before 2016-12-31
$ 2,500
So far donated
$ 860

Glenn Gould

Discussion in 'Pianists' started by robert, Aug 19, 2006.

  1. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,842
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sweden
    Home Page:
    Last Name:
    Stahlbrand
    First Name:
    Robert
    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 :).
     
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    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?
     
  3. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,842
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sweden
    Home Page:
    Last Name:
    Stahlbrand
    First Name:
    Robert
    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.
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,716
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    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.
     
  5. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,842
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sweden
    Home Page:
    Last Name:
    Stahlbrand
    First Name:
    Robert
    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.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,930
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    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)
     
  7. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,842
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sweden
    Home Page:
    Last Name:
    Stahlbrand
    First Name:
    Robert
    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.
    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.
     
  8. lol_nl

    lol_nl New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    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.
     
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    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.
     
  10. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    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
     
  11. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2006
    Messages:
    1,278
    Likes Received:
    0
    Last Name:
    Fournet
    First Name:
    Pierre
    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
     
  12. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,842
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sweden
    Home Page:
    Last Name:
    Stahlbrand
    First Name:
    Robert
    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.
     
  13. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    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:
     
  14. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    He controlled everything except for the singing. :p
     
  15. lol_nl

    lol_nl New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    His recording of the E flat minor Fugue is funny :lol: .
     
  16. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,716
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    I brought this back up, because I’ve been screwing around on the piano this morning and with all the talk about Gould on the Bach thread, I thought I would try playing piano sitting on a low chair. I never before tried it. (My teacher’s is probably going to shake his head if he learns about this. But he should know better then to go off concertizing around the country this week instead of staying home and teaching me. :lol: )

    The result is that I think I did have better finger control. Could be just my imagination, though. But it is something how when my eyes were closer to the keyboard, and with the Rach prelude I’m working on, I think I was able to bring out the top notes better (something I’m struggling with). But it was awkward coming down on big chords spread far apart – like I’m too close the keys and can’t see both hands out there, so that’s not so great. And Robert, you’re right about reading the music. It’s much higher up. And since I'm short it's always been high up, anyway.

    I’ve never heard Gould play Chopin and wonder if there’s a video of that on youtube. I'll check it out after this. If there is, I sure hope he doesn't sing along.
     
  17. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Messages:
    829
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Miami, Florida, USA
    Last Name:
    Robson
    First Name:
    John
    Gould

    I can't add anything to all that has been said about Gould except that I agree with those who believe he was a great genius who would had accomplished a lot more if he had not died so prematurely. I agree with Robert and those who believe he had Aspgerger's Syndrome or something akin to it. I don't believe his eccentricities were feigned to attract attention. Like Einstein, he was a genius who often didn't relate to others normally.
     
  18. Terez

    Terez New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Messages:
    1,418
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    Gulfport, MS, USA
    Someone told me I have Asperger's or whatever it is.
     
  19. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,716
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    This is linked to the thread Terez posted about Barenboim and the Bach Goldberg Variations.

    I found Barenboim on Youtube playing the Aria from the Goldberg variations. Here’s the link:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=AcXXkcZ2jWM
    So I watched him first and thought, “Ok – that’s nice. And look how high he sits at the piano. Many times, his forearms are slanted down toward the keys a great deal. He seems to have good control over his fingers like this. And what a pretty piece.”
    Then I found Gould playing the same piece. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rtt1msnwlZQ
    the Aria starts at the 5:50 mark. I am astonished! He plays it much slower and I think more beautiful than probably anyone else could ever hope to do. What he is producing on the piano is nearly killing me, it’s so nice. Like it lures you in, undresses you, hands gently rubbing all over your body, and then love-making - nice and slow, lingering on and on…Do you see what I mean? He caresses the keys like he is making love to the piano. That may sound weird, but I don’t know…there’s something about watching that video that’s got me all ‘worked up’, if get what I'm talking about. (And doesn’t it just figure that my husband is never around when I need him most!). Also, there’s that posture that Gould has at the piano. With his face so near the keys, that has to be the way he controls his fingers like that, don’t you think?
     
  20. Terez

    Terez New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Messages:
    1,418
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    Gulfport, MS, USA
    I doubt it, because sometimes he's rolling his head back with his eyes closed. :lol:

    But yeah, I also found that video of Gould's Goldberg earlier and bookmarked it, and I agree it's nicer than Barenboim. But I don't think Barenboim is bad at all, and I just didn't see why he would be described as "too romantic" an interpretation of Bach, which I think is what was said.

    Also, I saw in the comments on YouTube that Gould had done an earlier recording of Goldberg in which the Aria was played faster, probably similar to Barenboim's tempo.
     

Share This Page