Review Summary: 22 Short Sentences About Glenn Gould
George Orwell’s 1984
is the type of novel that makes you feel smarter for reading it. It’s intellectually stimulating, both in its investigation of authority as well as its exploration of humanity. Glenn Gould’s performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations
reminds me of 1984
. Not thematically– Bach was not exploring the effects of totalitarianism– but rather it’s a piece of art that makes you feel smarter. Don’t take this as pretentious preaching on my part, no that is not what I intend at all. Instead, I merely wish to display this album as a cultured work. It’s not the most complicated piece of music, nor is it the most important. Rather, this is an album that showcases an incredibly talented pianist performing beautiful and technically challenging music. Glenn Gould’s performance of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations
stands as one of the best contemporary recordings of classical music in general.
Glenn Gould is an iconic figure in Canadian culture as many claim him to be the best musician to ever hail from the Great White North. In his prime, he was also widely considered to be the best Bach musician in the world. An eccentric man, he was known for playing the piano as if he was conducting an orchestra. One criticism that was continuously launched at him was the noticeable humming of different orchestral parts in Gould’s recordings. These eccentricities aside, the one indisputable fact about Gould is that he is an impeccable pianist. Through all 31 variations of the Goldberg Variations
, Gould’s playing is never average, always perfect. Whether in the pretty and languid opening of “Aria” or the lively, left hand dominating “Variation 10 - Fughetta”, Gould doesn’t misstep once. Through each dizzying sixteenth note run, fluttering grace note or octave jumping staccato pulses, the playing is nothing short of mesmerizing. As for the music itself, it’s classic Bach with its stately baroque melodies and contrapuntal harmonic and rhythmic techniques.
Unless you’re a Bach or baroque fanatic, the likely hood of pulling out the Goldberg Variations
are not high. But whether you are appreciative of classical music, an aspiring pianist or simply an open minded music lover, then Glenn Gould’s take on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations
should be in your canon. It’s an excellent example of baroque period composition and technique. There is also enough beauty and accessibility to be listened to be enjoyed on occasion, or heck– all the time!