All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

2

Glenn Gould: Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Examples of Johann Sebastian Bach played on piano are a dime-a-dozen today, but it was not always this way. Before Glenn Gould's seismic debut with the Goldberg Variations (Columbia) in 1955, Bach's masthead keyboard composition was considered beyond the capabilities of the modern piano. While Gould was not the first to record the Goldbergs on piano (he is predated by Claudio Arrau and Eunice Norton, both in 1942, Rosalyn Tureck in 1947, and George Demus in ca. 1952) he did record them definitively, making the piano an instrument for interpretation of pre-piano forte music. Gould's Goldbergs performance is what the artist is best known for, having been jettisoned into the stratosphere by the inclusion of the famous aria as soundtrack to an unspeakably grisly scene in Jonathan Demme's 1991 masterpiece Silence of the Lambs (Orion Pictures). In the soundtrack, the aria is played by director Demme, but the allusion to Gould could not be clearer.

But Gould's Bach was but one part of this musical psyche. Gould also had a great command of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, and the pianist had great respect for the atonal 12-tone composers of the Second Viennese School: Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern, as well as, Ernst Krenek. Gould enjoyed world-wide acclaim, maybe as much for his various eccentricities as to his superior command of the piano.

In 1957, Gould undertook a European Tour that included performances in Moscow and Leningrad, giving four performances in each city. That said, the performances on Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek occurred at one of these eight shows. None of this music is unheard and is readily available on other labels. Cold War Russia was notorious for pirating clandestinely recorded live performances, releasing and re-releasing them ad nauseum on multiple labels all have illegitimate lineages. The pedigree of this present Urania Arts offering is, at best dubious, as evidenced by the complete lack of liner notes and the admission by the recording's producer that, ..."the producer was unable to trace the Author (or those entitles) of the picture here and on the cover."

However, the recording's pedigree says nothing about the recording save for the possibly poor sonics, which are certainly present. A combination of the period and inferior taping gives rise to an extremely muddy sound to the recording. I find this allowable if what we have is an historic performance, and this certainly is. Gould was, and is, a phenomenon we must often be reminded of. He plays the complete Three-Part Inventions, BWV 788-800, as well as complete readings of Webern's Piano Variations, Op. 27, Bach's Piano concerto No. 1, BWV 1052, and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 19. Gould is flawlessly precise in his interpretations, playing them with spirt and praise. While the historical worth of this release remains in doubt, the performances don't.

Track Listing: Bach: Three Part Inventions; Berg: Allegro form Piano Sonata No. 1; Webern: Piano Variations, Op. 27; Krekek: Allegretto piaceovole & Adagio for Piano Sonata No. 3; Bach: selections from The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, selections from The Goldberg Variations, Piano Concerto No.1; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2., Op. 19.

Personnel: Glenn Gould: piano; Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Ladislac Slovak

Title: Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Urania Arts

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Return to the Future CD/LP/Track Review
Return to the Future
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Telepathy CD/LP/Track Review
Telepathy
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 17, 2018
Read The Whole Thing Is Just There CD/LP/Track Review
The Whole Thing Is Just There
by John Bricker
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Haydn: Symphony No. 39, Symphony No. 87, Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante CD/LP/Track Review
Haydn: Symphony No. 39, Symphony No. 87, Mozart –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Rogue Star CD/LP/Track Review
Rogue Star
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Out in the Open CD/LP/Track Review
Out in the Open
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 16, 2018
Read "The Mugician" CD/LP/Track Review The Mugician
by Thomas Earl
Published: February 1, 2018
Read "The Space" CD/LP/Track Review The Space
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 6, 2018
Read "Pond Life" CD/LP/Track Review Pond Life
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 25, 2017
Read "The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke" CD/LP/Track Review The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 26, 2017
Read "The Groove Hunter" CD/LP/Track Review The Groove Hunter
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 24, 2018
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018