Joseph Previte wrote:
>Regarding Glenn Gould's humming, I distinctly remember as a classical
>music neophyte when I purchased my first Glenn Gould recording. ... I
>took the album home, put it on and was mortified to hear singing, no less
>what seemed out of tune ... I immediately marched the album back to the
>store and demanded a refund for the obviously defective album. Boy, did
>the sales clerks get a kick out of me. Since then I have come to overlook
>(overhear?) Gould's self-accompaniment and enjoy his artistry for what it
>is - always interesting, intellectually challenging, musically stimulating,
>and usually enjoyable.
Perhaps the store clerk wasn't as amused as he appeared to be. His main
job is to sell records, not credit customers for returns. Your description
of the clerk's reaction (to your having returned a Gould record) suggests
that you must have received some "guidance" with your musical tastes from
Gould, during the period of his greatest popularity, was oohed and aahed by
many Bach-loving musicaphiles. I've recently made some perceived-as harsh
remarks about this notorious pianist on this chatlist.
To be precise, I've come over the years to quietly resent the cult of
personality and adoration that seems inevitably to surround a handfull of
artists in each generation. Once an artist becomes a "name," something
often happens to these artists and their avid followers. It's hard to talk
about what these changes are, not only because these effects can be subtle
(though often very important aesthetically), but because the music world
has become so sensitive concerning what is said about these "big names,"
A customer of mine told me recently that "There's absolutely no doubt
that Gould (is) the best interpreter of Bach's music." The problem with
utterances like the above is not just that they're certainly and plainly
nonsense, but that they have an intimidating effect on the hearer. You
realize that you can't reasonably discuss your disagreement with their
assessment of an artist's attributes.
Until I heard others play Bach at the piano, I was content to enjoy, and I
certainly profoundly did enjoy, Gould's aggressive, machine like accuracy
and stylistic detachment. I now, and for many years, hear subtleties,
nuances, insights in the Bach playing from other pianists, that I often
don't find when I revisit Gould's Bach.
John Polifronio <[log in to unmask]>