Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best Thing I Heard Today: Glenn Gould playing Goldberg Variations 15-19

....ALTHOUGH, I don't care so much for this version of #15 (it lasts the first five minutes of the Youtube below)--too austere for my romantic softhead, plus it has some incongruous staccato phrasing at about 2:00. That said, I may play it for Good Friday next year, as Gould suggests in the very entertaining, and completely staged, interview found here:

If you're approaching this without liner notes, the austere #15 is a reverse canon at the fifth, #16 is the "French Overture," #17 is a goofy little virtuosic thing that makes you cross your hands, #18 is the amazing canon at the sixth (one of two that I have actually played for church), and #19 sounds doable, hmmm... If you're listening for the canons, they occur in the right hand while the left hand accompanies. I recommend you buy the score, it could keep you occupied for the rest of your life if you let it. Anyhow, listen away:

And here's part of the aforementioned "interview", completely scripted by Gould, with writer Tim Page, that explains how he linked and chopped up the rhythmic pulses that run through #16, 17, and 18. It's fascinating, the amount of thought that must go into performing this music! Not to mention writing it--J.S. Bach is, for me, the most humbling composer of all time.

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