Gould’s Bach!

Bach by Gould! 

Glenn Gould became famous because of his unique and unforgettable interpretations of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. His recordings of the Bach Goldberg Variations became an item of great admiration. His interpretations are certainly unique.As one compares Glenn Gould with other great performers, one finds that he takes tempos that are slower or faster than other pianists. I personally prefer more individualistic performances, and therefore I enjoy Gould’s performances of anything composed by Bach.

The Preludes and Fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier represent a mile-post in the creative Genius of Bach. Much of music that followed in the next 300 years would likely have been a lot different if these pieces were never written. Particularly striking and moving is the singing and percussive quality Gould gives to many of the preludes. The fugues are also remarkable for their clarity of line and the way Gould seems to effortlessly develop whatever it is that intrigues him in a given fugue. You can hear the joy and also the humor in his playing.

From the very first bars, with the flowing ascending theme played partly in an unexpected staccato, the knowledgeable listener can tell that this will be a highly idiosyncratic rendering. Sure enough, Gould willfully takes some pieces at half-speed, presumably to display the “inner structure”, while others are played very fast, and still very clear style.

While Bach did not provide specific instructions about how he wanted his music played, Gould’s version of these Preludes and Fugues are brimming with creative ideas, distinctiveness, clarity, phrasing, and amazing musicianship.

Here is an audio extract from this recording. Enjoy!

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