The mutual admiration society that was Glenn Gould and Herbert von Karajan gave six concerts between May 1957 and September 1959 featuring Beethoven’s C minor Concerto (Berlin 1957) and Bach’s D minor (Berlin 1958, Lucerne 1959). Though neither of the Bach performances has appeared on disc, the Beethoven has had several CD outings. This handsomely packaged “official” transfer by Sony is the best we have had technically.
Glenn Gould was this century's greatest Bach player, so these legendary recordings are self-recommending. While other fine pianists have made powerful statements in this music, no one sounds anything like Gould. His phenomenal clarity of articulation, digital control, and well, just plain interesting way with the music set him completely apart from the competition. With playing of this individuality and quality, it's pointless to engage in any debate with respect to the appropriateness of the piano versus the harpsichord. Scholars and pedants may continue to argue, but the fact is, it doesn't matter. Great musicianship always serves great music best.-David Hurwitz
In 1956 Glenn Gould’s first Columbia Masterworks release, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, took the music world by storm and immediately established the 23-year-old Canadian pianist as one of the most brilliant, original, charismatic and provocative classical performers of his time. Sixty years later, Gould’s prolific recorded output remains a stimulating presence, thanks to Sony Classical’s newly remastered collection of his complete authorized recordings in an 81-CD limited edition. The Sound of Glenn Gould presents highlights from this definitive presentation of the legendary pianist’s discography.
None of Liszt's ingenuous Beethoven symphony transcriptions had been recorded when Glenn Gould charted virgin territory in 1967 with the Fifth. Not only does Gould take Liszt's prodigious technical demands in stride, he also turns in what may be his best Beethoven playing on record. The pianist brings a kind of rhythmic acuity to the outer movements that makes many orchestral versions seem tame in comparison, even those with faster tempos. Gould's genius for sustaining tension at slow tempos is fully revealed in the second movement, in which each phrase is timed to a T. The first movement of the Pastorale flows more assuredly and accurately than in Gould's CBC Radio performance of the entire transcription. It's a pity Gould abandoned his plans to record the entire cycle.
This program offers three lively, colorful, and captivating orchestral works by two United States composers, born almost a century apart. These pieces exhibit the fruitful exchange and flow of musical material between North and South America that has long played a role in popular music, apparent not only in commercial song and dance music using Latin American melodies and rhythms but also in early jazz and blues where tango rhythms are so often heard, as in W. C. Handy's St. Louis Blues. And both Gottschalk in the 1850s, close to the beginning of a creative American musical tradition, and Gould in the 1950s, when such a tradition had flowered considerably, show a combination of seriousness of approach with a popular touch.