Glenn Gould: The Original Jacket Collection

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  December 20, 2007
4.0 4.0 Stars
Glenn Gould

Even when Glenn Gould was not at his best, he was an indispensable artist. No other pianist captured his uncanny combination of the sparkling and the gravely solemn. The recording studio was more important to him than the concert hall. This new bargain-priced 80-CD set of all his Columbia recordings traces the extraordinary range of his 27-year recording career, which began in 1955 with the release of his incandescent version of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, still the single most prized performance of this great work. The Goldbergs were also the last recording he released — more autumnal than exhilarating this time, and more controversial. Beethoven is another Gould cornerstone, with 21 sonatas, plus concertos, variations, a marvelous disc of Bagatelles, and one complete symphony (and a movement from another one, both arranged by Liszt). Very early, he made a memorable version of a Haydn Sonata (in E-flat); very late, he recorded six more. He played Mozart with mixed feeling; he said he recorded his last album of Mozart sonatas only to complete the set but found the music worthless. His great loves ranged from Byrd and Gibbons to Berg and Schoenberg. He played surprisingly beautiful and sensitive Brahms, but you won’t find any Schubert or Chopin, and his one Schumann — the Piano Quartet — ended his relationship with the Juilliard String Quartet. His strangest disc must be Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden, on which he accompanies Claude Rains reciting Tennyson’s dramatic narrative. Also fascinating are his own string quartet and a delightful vocal quartet called So You Want To Write a Fugue. The set includes a bonus interview with Washington Post critic Tim Page and CD-sized versions of all his original album covers and liner notes. Even 80 discs won’t unravel Gould’s mysteries, but they’re a reminder that he was one of the most astounding and original musicians who ever recorded.
Related: Variety show, Orchestra in transition, But not simpler, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious

 See all articles by: LLOYD SCHWARTZ