Glenn Gould: The Young Maverick. CBC Records. $24.99 (6 CDs).
Glenn Gould: The Radio Artist. CBC Records. $24.99 (5 CDs).
Glenn Gould said that he intended to give up playing the piano at age 50 and devote the rest of his life to conducting, writing and composing. He did indeed give up piano at 50 – but not as he planned. He lived barely 50 years, dying of a stroke just after his 50th birthday in 1982. Gould was always a highly controversial figure and a very polarizing one. Playing from an adjustable-height chair built for him by his father – so he could sit very low and pull down on the keys instead of striking them from above – he was noted for fast tempos; tremendous clarity in contrapuntal music (especially Bach’s, for which he modified his pianos to have shallower actions); idiosyncrasies in concert performances (he swayed his torso clockwise while playing); and out-of-the-mainstream viewpoints (he disliked Chopin’s music and was strongly critical of Mozart’s).
Fans of Gould – and there are many – will welcome the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s discursive, well-priced six-CD set of his performances of works by Beethoven, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and, of course, Bach. Of particular interest is a 1954 live recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, made a year before the famous
Gould, who was born in